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Wheeler honored with “Golden Key” award



By Sun Advocate

Terry Wheeler displays his golden key award as Division of Rehabilitation representatives Jeri Hamilton and Karl Kraync stand close by. Wheeler was nominated by the rehabilitation center for the award and received the honor because of his dedication to a small hobby shop located in Helper. Wheeler’s success has proven that the partnership with citizens and the rehab service is valuable.

Helper business owner Terry Wheeler was recently presented the governor’s golden key award along with the outstanding citizen award by the Utah Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Wheeler was nominated for the award by the local Department of Rehabilitation and was selected as the award recipient in this district.
Only three awards are presented to Utah citizens each year according to their district. This year was Wheeler’s turn to shine in the spotlight.
According to the governor’s committee, the outstanding citizen award is the highest honor given to an outstanding Utahan with a disability. The award is based on outstanding and significant achievements in the world of work and noteworthy contributions that increase awareness of people with disabilities in the workforce.
After being diagnosed with a chronic health condition, Wheeler was told to remain at home and not go back to work. After trying this remedy for a short time, Wheeler decided that he had to get out and stay busy, otherwise he was bound to go crazy.
This is when Wheeler approached the rehab center with a request for assistance to start his own business.
The local rehab facility agreed and soon, Wheeler was operating Sunbonnet Signal Systems in Helper.
The small business is the only hobby shop in Carbon County. Wheeler explains that the shop is filled with a variety of merchandise to satisfy just about anybody’s needs.
“We specialize in model railroad signals. In fact, we are the only signal company in the world that makes fine scale Rio Grande models,” explained the business owner.
“The purpose of the hobby store is to provide the county with a service which Carbon County has not had since the late 1980s. We stock and sell hobby supplies including models, paints and glue. We also carry Microsizers which makes us one of two stores plained.
Because the shop carries such a variety of railroad goods and merchandise including history books and children’s books, the store attracts railroad fans from across the world.
“This past year we have had folks come in from several different countries including Germany and Switzerland. Because our expertise is so rare, railroad enthusiasts know about us from across the world,” Wheeler stated.
Because Helper is a town which was formed around the railroad, Wheeler feels it is important to revisit the cities history.
“We carry specialty products such as greeting cards and photographs. We also have t-shirts that have old time photos of Helper. There is no better place to have a railroad hobby shop than in the city of Helper,” confessed Wheeler.
When asked about the awards, Wheeler was quick to add that the reason he owns and operates the small business is not to receive accolades, but to provide the community with a service which he enjoys doing.
“I feel proud of the award, and I accept it in all humility. Although I am honored to receive the award, I surely did not expect it,” concluded a humble Wheeler.
For now, the award is displayed on the wall of the small Helper business.
As long as possible, Wheeler will remain at the shop, doing what he loves.

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