Jeff Coghlan only meant to be passing through.

A native of South Jersey, Coghlan — a Wendy’s franchisee and co-founder of Wendy’s Walk for Kids — first arrived in Broome County in 1983.

Decades later, his ties to the area run so deep that Binghamton is home.

“My wife and I fell in love with the community,” he said. “We never had people that were second-, third-, fourth-generation families in the same community; we just had never experienced that. We thought it was odd at first, and now, I live next door to my daughter.”

The Boy Scouts of America Baden-Powell Council will honor Coghlan’s service to the community he calls his own with the 2016 Broome County Distinguished Citizen Award during its annual fundraising dinner at The McKinley in Endicott on May 4.

Every year, the award recognizes people who set positive examples for others and demonstrate concern and significant care for their communities, according to a news release.

“The criteria is to recognize someone who does understand giving back to others, giving back to your community,” said Albert Nocciolino, chairman of the 2016 fundraiser. “This is an event that selects somebody from the community who’s really epitomized that and has done that for a very long time, as Jeff has.”

Coghlan serves on the Dave Thomas Family Adoption Committee, Broome County Council of Churches, and the boards at Davis College and SUNY Broome Community College. He also set up a Hope Tent at the 2015 Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally in support of Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

For Coghlan, giving back is a personal obligation.

“I think it’s biblical,” he said. “We’re ordered in Scripture to take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, so it goes all the way back to the roots of my faith.”

Coghlan was inducted into the Wendy’s Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2009, along with his daughter, Keli Cooper, he founded Wendy’s Walk for Kids, an event that runs in conjunction with the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open every summer and raises money for three local children’s charities as well as the Dave Thomas Foundation. After seven years of fundraising, more than $1 million have been raised for children’s charities through the event.

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