The Virginia Search and Rescue Council has recognized Nina Cipriani, an 11-year veteran of Southwest Virginia’s Black Diamond Search and Rescue team, as the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Lisa Hannon Award.
The award is given annually to the searcher who exemplifies the best qualities of dedication, response and professionalism in the statewide volunteer search and rescue community, according to a news release from Black Diamond.
Cipriani, a dog handler from Abingdon, has contributed to a number of searches during her time with Black Diamond. She has certified two cadaver dogs and expects to have a third ready soon. She has also certified a trailing dog, the release states.
“I was so amazed to have won the Lisa Hannon Award because it is voted on by the past recipients, all of whom are people I have looked up to over the years as mentors,” Cipriani said. “To be included in that group means a lot.”
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Black Diamond, based in Marion, has personnel across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia and can be called upon by law enforcement to any part of the state, the release states. Mike Maggard helped to found the group in 2002 and currently serves as coordinator of the group’s more than 50 members.
“Nina has been an invaluable member of Black Diamond and has excelled as our K-9 team leader,” Maggard said. “She fully exemplifies the qualities and character represented by the Lisa Hannon Award.”
Cipriani is the eighth Black Diamond member to ever receive the Lisa Hannon Award.
“The Virginia SAR program has provided me the opportunity to do what I love by training dogs and then applying that to a humanitarian effort,” Cipriani said. “This has truly been the pinnacle of my career.”