Elaine Meyers, at left, is pictured with Stephen Lee of First Financial Bank after she was honored with the annual Athena Award during a special breakfast ceremony this past Thursday, May 12, at The Brown Estate in Orange. Meyers is the owner of The Horseman Store in Orange.  Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

A woman known for her inner strength, hard work and dedication to her to community was honored for those attributes at a special event this past week.

Elaine Meyers, owner of The Horseman Store, is the 2016 recipient of the Athena Award and was recognized during a special breakfast ceremony on Thursday, May 12, inside The Brown Estate in Orange.

“This award recognizes individuals for a number of things, including their leadership skills and community service,” said Stephen Lee, president of First Financial Bank which presents the award annually. “Elaine Meyers is such a woman. She has employed and trained hundreds of high school students through the years and has been their mentor.”

Meyers opened The Horseman Store in Orange approximately 47 years ago and has made a name for herself as a successful businessperson around the world. She has other businesses which keep her schedule busy, including her business, Safety Wear, which she established in 1997 and has locations in Houston and Port Arthur.

To meet the demand of her customers, many of which are industry, she has created mobile delivery units which bring the product to the customer in order to better serve them.

Meyers, who is a mother of two children and has three grandchildren and one great-grandchild, was visibly moved by the honor.

“Orange has always been very special to me and that is why it is where the home office is for my businesses,” Meyers said after receiving her award. “This award is very special to me and I thank you. I appreciate it very much.”

Meyers thanked her mother and family, several of her life-long friends and some of her employees who were in attendance at the event.

Meyers is actively involved at Trinity Baptist Church and various endeavors through the community, including the development of a scholarship program which presents four awards annually.

Meyers hard work and determination has helped make her the successful business person she is. It has also helped to save her life as she is now a two-time cancer survivor.

“I was diagnosed with cancer the first time in 1989 and I was given a 25 percent chance of survival,” Meyers said. “So, in my mind, that means if 25 people out of 100 can survive, then I was going to be one of those 25 people.”

After a lengthy treatment process, Meyers was given the word that she was cancer free. In fact, she began putting a portion of her profits aside for cancer research each year starting in 1989 because of the experience she had and knew others were dealing with as well.

However, after many years, the cancer returned and it was back to the battle.

Meyers has spent the past many months, determined as always, to fight the good fight and to defeat the cancer which had once again invaded her body. It paid off.

“I got the results on Wednesday (May 11) and I was deemed cancer free,” Meyers announced to the audience with a big smile.

While battling the cancer, Meyers continued to work day-to-day and keep her businesses moving along just like any other day. Even with the flooding which occurred along the Sabine River in Orange County and southern Newton County, which damaged her business, Meyers continued to work hard with her valued employees.

“The store had one-and-a-half feet of water in it for five days,” Meyers explained. “So, we moved over to Northway Shopping Center because I had employees who needed to work and inventory building up. Even though we weren’t open, the inventory was still coming in because some of it had been ordered nine-months prior.”

Stephen Lee, kneeling in front, poses with many of the previous and current recipients of the Athena Award following the most recent award ceremony, which was held on May 12 at The Brown Estate in Orange.

Stephen Lee, kneeling in front, poses with many of the previous and current recipients of the Athena Award following the most recent award ceremony, which was held on May 12 at The Brown Estate in Orange.

The Athena Award is inspired by the Greek goddess of the same name. Athena was known for her courage, strength, wisdom and enlightenment.

According to the Athena International Web site, the Athena Award is presented to a woman or man who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

This award annually recognizes a person within the community who embodies those characteristics in his or her quest for professional excellence and service. Meyers is such a person.

In years past, the award was always presented in conjunction with the annual Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce banquet. This is the second year the award ceremony was held separately.

“We wanted to isolate this award and give pure recognition to the recipient of this award,” said Lee, who presented the award for the ninth consecutive year. “And Elaine is the poster lady for courage, strength and perseverance.”

The Athena Award, which was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan, has grown to include presentations to more than 6,700 individuals in more than 500 cities in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. The award takes the form of a handcast bronze sculpture symbolizing the strength, courage and wisdom of the recipient.

Several past recipients of the local Athena Award were in attendance at the event on Thursday.