Fittingly, in a year in which a new park bearing her family’s name is set to fully open, Vicki Decarsky earned high honors from the city of Derby – being named the 2021 recipient of the Mayor’s Award of Excellence.
The Mayor’s Award of Excellence was established in 2002 as a way to honor an individual, family, organization or business that has contributed significantly to the Derby community.
If a donation of land to help establish Decarsky Park weren’t enough, Decarsky is also heavily involved in philanthropic efforts with the Derby Public Schools and Derby Community Foundation. Those contributions and more made this year’s award an easy call for Mayor Randy White.
“Vicki has been very generous with her giving to Derby in many ways, not only the park land but also through her foundation and several other organizations that she’s a part of,” White said. “Vicki fits the criteria of people that I have nominated in the past that really have been meaningful to the quality of life in Derby, Kansas.”
Decarsky Park was named in honor of Vicki and her late husband, Tomp. In 2013, she donated 63 acres (valued at $800,000) for the park that features four ballfields set to open in 2021, batting cages, Derby’s first dog park – which opened in October 2020 – and land for additional ballfields in a future phase two. In addition, Decarsky’s foundation funded $73,000 for the agility course and dock features at the dog park.
On top of her contributions toward the new city park, Decarsky and her late husband established the Decarsky Scholarship (through the DCF) in 2010, the largest local scholarship awarded in Derby. She also supports the DCF’s Career Technical Education Assistance Fund, which provides financial support to Derby High School students pursuing technical certification. Through a Donor Advised Fund with the DCF, she also supports numerous other local causes (i.e., Circles Derby, Derby Historical Society, Women for Women, etc.) and currently serves as treasurer of the Derby Rotary Club.
Education meant a lot to Decarsky’s late husband, Tomp, which has fueled the support of the schools. Having the resources and having come to love the Derby community – which she has been a part of since moving in 1999 – she feels compelled to continue that support.
“God’s the one that made this possible, but I’ve been very blessed, so I feel like you should share,” Decarsky said.
While she noted she was honored to be recognized by White with this year’s Award of Excellence, she was quick to point out that it is more than one person who adds to the qualify of life in Derby.
From what Decasrky has gleaned, it’s the people that bring others to (or back to) Derby, with the community being blessed in that way – pointing to the grassroots establishment of Circles Derby as an example.
“Together we feel like we’re making Derby a better place to live, but it’s not just me,” Decarsky said. “It’s a group effort.”
As far as White is concerned, though, Decarsky has done plenty to contribute to those efforts and he is happy to carry on the tradition of highlighting individuals who make an impact in the community. And Decarsky certainly fits the bill.
“I think it’s real important that we do stop and we realize, at least on a yearly basis, some of the wonderful things that people are doing here in our town to make Derby a better place to live,” White said. “Vicki’s a special lady. She’s very caring, very giving. She’s a wonderful lady inside and out. She’s excited to see what happens next with the park and that’s the kind of leadership that we need is someone who is always looking forward to what’s next. Vicki does that really well; she looks around and says ‘what else do we need?’”
Decarsky will officially be presented with the Mayor’s Award of Excellence at the Derby City Council meeting on Jan. 12.