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Echo Press photo by Celeste Beam Brett Paradis (right), owner of KXRA Radio in Alexandria, was this year's recipient of The Unity Foundation's Christian Leadership Award. He was honored at a luncheon Friday at Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria and received a hug from his father, Mel.

Radio station owner gets surprise reception

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"How could I not know? How could I be so clueless? I thought Joe was pulling my leg."

Those were the words spoken by Brett Paradis, owner of KXRA Radio in Alexandria, at The Unity Foundation's luncheon Friday at Broadway Ballroom.

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Paradis was honored with the Christian Leadership Award, which was presented by The Unity Foundation.

Joe Korkowski, who Paradis was referring to, works at KXRA and was the luncheon's emcee. When Korkowski announced that Paradis was the winner, Paradis thought he was joking - until he saw a group of familiar people, who had been hiding in another room, walk through the door.

To say Paradis was surprised is an understatement.

"It's true? He's not kidding?" Paradis asked the large crowd. "I can't explain how I feel. The Lord has been so good to me."

Paradis is the second person honored with the Christian Leadership Award. Last year's recipient was Ed Christopherson.

Many of Paradis' family and friends were present at the luncheon, including his parents and sister, his daughter and numerous employees of KXRA.

Several people spoke on his behalf - here's what some of them had to say:

Korkowski Paradis always has the best interest of everyone around him in mind. He also said Paradis means what he says.

Patty Wicken, a long-time radio announcer for KXRA, said, "It is my pleasure to have known Brett for more than 20 years."

She said there are many things about Paradis that people may not know.

For example, she said he was one of the organizers of Lake Community Church.

In addition, she learned that he provided a family, who was staying in the Twin Cities because their child was ill, with tickets for fun things to do while they were in that area.

"I had no idea he does this, but he does it all the time," she said.

She said that Paradis sets an example for the whole community because of what he does, such as broadcasting a "Prayer Minute" every morning around 6 a.m. and also by providing Sunday morning Christian programming.

"Thanks for honoring this wonderful man; he deserves it," she said.

Bruce McKirdy from KXRA Radio, who once worked for Mel Paradis, Brett's father, told him, "As a father, you should be so proud of him." Mel Paradis responded, "I am."

McKirdy said Paradis is caring and has the perfect balance of prayer, action and grace.

"I am so grateful," he said, quickly adding with a grin, "You are not without fault, but you are easily forgiven. We are grateful for you."

Myron Sahlberg, a friend of Paradis, told him, "I appreciate you as a brother in Christ."

Sahlberg said he didn't have any flattery to offer Paradis, but told him, "You are simply a good man. You honor God in your business. You are trustworthy, compassionate and generous."

Tom E. Lee, who works as a radio announcer for Z99.3, gave credit to Paradis for saving his life and then read a passage from Luke 10:25-37 about the Good Samaritan.

"Many times I have been down that road and you have picked me up," he told Paradis, whom he called a humble man.

Paradis' father, Mel, also spoke, explaining how his son started in the radio business in Redwood Falls, which is where he grew up.

"Eventually," said Mel, "he ended up in administration because he likes to be the boss."

The Paradis family bought KXRA radio in 1988, and Mel told his son that he could run the station.

"He rode with it well," said Mel. "He has done a fantastic job."

Mel Paradis explained that the two have a good father-son business relationship with no cross words or arguments. He also said they have a wonderful father-son relationship as well.

"I have watched Brett's face deepen from a boy to a man," Mel told the audience. He then looked directly at his son and said, "Brett, I am proud of you. Congratulations on your award today."

Letters were also read from two people who were unable to attend the luncheon - one from Paradis' son, Drew, and another from Paradis' brother, Tim.

Both Drew and Tim said how proud they were of Paradis.

Paradis told everyone who attended the luncheon how honored he was to have received The Unity Foundation's Christian Leadership Award and thanked everyone in attendance, with a special thank you to all media members, including radio, newspaper and television.

ABOUT THE AWARD

The Christian Leadership Award, presented by The Unity Foundation, is given to a member of the community each year based on his/her length of service, love and devotion to helping people seek the Lord, along with the impact made on the community through his/her Christian leadership.

THE UNITY FOUNDATION

The Unity Foundation is an inter-denominational group of business men and women from Alexandria and surrounding areas.

Its board consists of 12 individuals who are in a variety of businesses - manufacturing, retail, professional, as well as retired individuals.

The Unity Foundation's purpose is to help encourage sharing Christian faith in the workplace by providing seminars, lunches and other events to provide practical insights dealing with ethical, spiritual and value issues. The foundation's hope is to help the Christian community "walk the talk."

For more information, visit the website at www.unityfoundation-alex.com or call Sara at (320) 491-6417.

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