No one who knows Sandra Drake of Logan would believe anyone could be more deserving of the 1988 Outstanding Handicapped Federal Employee of the Year award.

Drake, who is deaf and has serious visual handicaps, was among 21 federal employees honored Wednesday for striving to overcome disabilities.She received the award on behalf of the Agricultural Research Service. Drake is an eight-year veteran in the service's office in Logan, working as a clerk-typist.

The purpose of the annual awards to federal employees with disabilities is to "recognize and publicize the versatility, value and wide range of federal job duties being performed by persons with physical and mental disability," said a U.S. Agriculture Department spokesman.

Drake was joined on the trip by her sister, Susan, and her parents, Eldon and Janice Drake. They received tours of the Capitol Building, the White House and other sites as guests of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Drake has struggled throughout her life to cope with congenital blindness in her left eye and substantial impairment in her right eye. Infections have affected her facial nerves, equilibrium and hearing, and she has spent a total of 200 weeks in hospitals and undergone 48 operations.

"During the late 1970s, Sandy became addicted to the drugs prescribed to ease her pain," said Ron K. Beck, administrative officer for the Agricultural Research Service in Logan.

In his letter of nomination, Beck said: "Ms. Drake successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program and went on about her life and career only to totally lose her hearing two years later."

She was instrumental in organizing "Friends of the Deaf," Logan's first support group for the hearing impaired. She also teaches church classes and frequently speaks to youth groups "encouraging them to overcome their challenges in life by turning obstacles from stumbling blocks into stepping stones," Beck said.

"She is one of the most outstanding employees I have ever had the pleasure to work with."