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By OSD Staff Writer Ann Green

What do OSD executives Austin Talley, Glenn Banton, and Scott Morrison have in common with Pope Benedict, The Beatles, John Glenn, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, and Elvis Presley?  All have been inducted into the Kentucky Colonels, the highest honor given by the Governor of Kentucky, in recognition of their accomplishments and service to community, state, and nation, as well as devotion to faith, family, commonwealth and country.  

Commissioned Colonels are Kentucky Colonels for life. The Kentucky Colonels is a recognized 501(c) (3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, a voluntary philanthropic organization which raises funds to support Kentucky charities and organizations.  

Charities supported by the Kentucky Colonels help people in need from all walks of life.  Their Good Works Program Grant recipients include over 230 organizations such as The Alzheimer’s Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana and the Bluegrass, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra Society, Louisville Coalition for the Homeless, Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, The Learning Disabilities Association of Kentucky, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, and Special Olympics of Kentucky.

The Kentucky Colonels Better Life Scholarship works with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to help single working parents with children under the age of 12, by addressing the lack of educational assistance for such individuals.  The scholarship program has provided over $1,000,000 in college funding.

The Colonels also sponsor Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., for veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The veterans visit the nation’s capital and witness the monuments dedicated to the men and women who served our country in times of war.

“This is a very prestigious organization and I am honored to be part a great tradition,” says Morrison, OSD’s Chief Community Officer: “I’m very proud to be part of Kentucky Colonels because of their historic community service and their dedication to giving back. This fits perfectly with my belief in the importance of selfless service throughout one’s life.” Morrison hopes to go to the Kentucky Derby one day, a Kentucky Colonels tradition.

Austin Talley, OSD’s Chief Development Officer, was nominated in 2011. “There is a lot of merit to being inducted,” says Talley. “You are nominated by a Kentucky Colonel based on what you’ve done for your community, caring for others, conduct with high moral character. The application is reviewed and you’re informed.”

“Scott and Austin wanted to honor my service and so they nominated me as a Kentucky Colonel,” says Glenn Banton, CEO and Executive Director of OSD, and OSD’s most recent addition to the group. Newly elected Colonels have the option of having a formal induction ceremony.

“When Scott and I nominated Glenn we informed them that we wanted to do it in a formal manner,” says Talley.  “Scott and I tried to find the perfect venue to present. Glenn was surprised. He said, ‘What’s this?” I said, ‘Congrats, you’re inducted into a famous organization whose members include Elvis and Reagan.” Talley adds that when he met Banton, “One of the reasons I came into OSD was my desire to serve others. ‘Serve first and serve often’ has been the unspoken motto of OSD. It’s a phenomenal motto to live by.  I wouldn’t have met Glenn if not for our involvement in philanthropy.”

“Queen Elizabeth, Teddy Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill are Kentucky Colonels and now I’m a Kentucky Colonel,” says Banton.  “Some people think it’s a joke or an ad for KFC. It’s a real thing, and it’s an honor for service member for life.”

“Their veterans initiative is especially important to me and is among the reasons why we want people to know about the three Kentucky Colonels on our executive team,” adds Banton.  “They are very focused on vets, also on homelessness and children’s hospitals, helping kids battling medical challenges or medical needs.”

Banton was formally inducted by Scott and Austin on Veterans Day 2018. “This included an epic Veteran’s Day outing,’ says Banton, “a workout with our partners at Onnit, a trip to The Range, great food, hanging out, having fun. Of course, the best part was the people there. And it was especially cool to have Austin and Scott present to me.”

Morison, Talley, and Banton hope to have additional members of OSD inducted into the Kentucky Colonels. For OSD to have leadership in the Kentucky Colonels signifies that this prestigious group recognizes what OSD does nationally,” says Banton, “and to have individuals in our leadership strengthen what OSD can do. It also shows we are living our values on a daily basis.”