UTMB Earth Day celebration marks 24th year, pays tribute to “the man who started it all”

May 17, 2016, 09:58 AM by KirstiAnn Clifford

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Ken Steblein’s wife, Colleen, and two of their three sons, Andrew and Mark, stand next to a quilt made in Steblein’s honor.

The courtyard outside of the Moody Medical Library was full of vendor booths, spectators, food trucks and live music as UTMB celebrated its 24th annual Earth Day celebration on April 22.

Only one person was missing. Ken Steblein, UTMB’s recycling coordinator who started the annual event back in 1992, passed away on April 16 following an 18-month battle with cancer.

Neal Cooper, UTMB’s sustainability director, paid tribute to Steblein, recalling how the Earth Day celebration has grown from a couple of tables in the main hallway of the John Sealy Hospital, to an outdoor event with 30 suppliers, a leadership committee, corporate contributors and more than 100 volunteers from across the institution.

Steblein’s wife, Colleen, and two of their sons, Andrew and Mark, were in attendance as Cooper expressed his appreciation for “the man who started it all.”

“Because of Ken’s vision and passion, we are reaching further and doing more to promote sustainable living principles throughout the area,” said Cooper. “Ken, on behalf of UTMB and the Sustainability Department, thank you for your hard work, your dedication, your dream and the commitment necessary to making all of this a reality for generations to come.”

Part of Steblein’s legacy was on display, as the always popular “Recycle in Style” fashion show took to the outdoor runway. About a dozen UTMB employees showed off their recycled outfits, created with materials such as coffee filters, duct tape, Q-tips, feed bags and film strips.
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This year’s overall winner was Cheryl Sadro, executive vice president and chief business and finance officer, who wore the “Enchanting Southern Gown,” designed by Tonya Allyn Broussard. The fashionably “green” ensemble was covered with rubber gloves and blue OR sterilization covers.

Other awards included “Crowd Favorite” and “Mother Earth,” which went to Madison and Haley Love, granddaughters of UTMB employee Florence McMillian. Runner-up prizes went to Jena Cherry and Trina Phillips. Bay Colony Elementary School also participated in this year’s event, with 37 fourth graders showing off their unique styles during the “Trashion Show.”

The theme of this year’s celebration was “Recycling…Just what the doctor ordered.” School of Medicine student Christina Haddad won first place in UTMB’s Earth Day art contest and her drawing was featured on this year’s Earth Day T-shirt.

To see more pictures from this year’s event, visit UTMB’s Flickr account at www.flickr.com/photos/utmb/albums.