KEARNEY — The dedication of Archway volunteer Ken Tracy was rewarded Thursday when he received a surprise visit from History Nebraska trustee Vickie Schaepler.

Schaepler visited The Archway to honor Tracy with a History Nebraska Heritage Hero Award to recognize his work in helping to preserve Nebraska’s history and share the story of Nebraska’s role in the building of America. Schaepler presented the award to Tracy with an audience of touring school students from Lincoln Elementary School in Grand Island.

“I don’t really work for free,” Tracy told the students, “I get paid back for my work when I get to visit with people from all over the country and school groups like you who come to The Archway. I get paid when I get to meet new people and when I see students like you smile.”

Tracy dresses as famous trailblazer Thomas “Broken Hand” Fitzpatrick. He greets visitors, tells them about The Archway’s historical mission and provides travel information when it’s needed. In the character of Fitzpatrick, he performs re-enactments for student groups, sharing the perils and rewards they might expect as travelers on the Oregon Trail.

“All of our volunteers are very dedicated and talented people who help Archway visitors to have the best experience we can deliver,” said Kellie Jo Risk, The Archway’s volunteer coordinator.

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