Rotary, Ponte Vedra Recorder honor six Local Heroes


Rotary, Ponte Vedra Recorder honor six Local Heroes


Howley, Kohler, Ray, Rigby, Snyder, Vetere noted for their community service

The Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach and Ponte Vedra Recorder have bestowed the honor of “Local Hero” to six area residents this year.

Started in 1993 by former Rotary Club member Vic DiGenti, the 28th annual presentation of the awards continues a longstanding tradition in which the local Rotary and newspaper honor “unsung heroes” who give back to the community and reflect the spirit of Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self.”

The 2020 “Local Heroes” include:

Sonia Howley

Nominated by Scott Hetzinger, Sonia Howley is receiving her award in the Disabilities Advocacy category. She has worked as an Exceptional Student Education program specialist for the St. Johns County School District since 2014 and is passionate about providing opportunities for students with disabilities. Howley has also been instrumental in establishing the school district’s collaboration with Ponte Vedra nonprofit organization, Lend an Ear Outreach, which provides hearing aids to people in need.

Janet Kohler

Nominated by Diane Eymer, Janet Kohler is the recipient of this year’s award in the Environmental Education category for her efforts to facilitate collaboration between the GTM Research Reserve and St. Johns County. She has brought the 4H program to the Reserve, which has resulted in a number of state awards. Kohler is also the past president of Pine Castle school for the developmentally disabled, where she integrated environmental education and experiences into its programs.

George Ray

Nominated by Sarah Small, George Ray is receiving his “Local Heroes” award in the Good Neighbor category. Known as Nocatee’s “Water Guy,” Ray has handed out over 4,000 bottles of water to thirsty neighbors over the last several years. Why complete this act of kindness? He simply likes to see the look on someone’s face when he hands them something they need.

Grayson Z. Rigby

Nominated by Kerry Fodor, Grayson Rigby is receiving his award in the Education category. Currently an eighth-grade student at Alice B. Landrum Middle School, Rigby has volunteered for two to three hours a week at Ocean Palms Elementary School for nearly three years. He also has written a book on the Galapagos Islands, for which he has won two national book awards and

donated a portion of the proceeds to further research, conservation, and education

of the volcanic islands.

Dr. Brett Snyder

Nominated by Karsten Amlie, Dr. Brett Snyder is receiving his award in the Medical Volunteer category. Snyder utilizes his plastic surgery skills to dramatically improve the lives of severely impacted children locally and throughout the world.

Dr. Anthony M. Vetere

Nominated by Doc Renuart, Dr. Anthony Vetere is also being recognized in the Medical Volunteer category. Despite total mid-career blindness caused by a genetic disease, he uses his internal medicine skills on international mission trips. He made his ninth trip to the Dominican Republic in January. While home, he supports research of his debilitating disease.

“This is a special group of individuals, and we are thankful for their contributions to the community,” said Vickie Cavey, president of the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach. “Year after year, we identify another humbling group of Local Heroes, which just proves again how fortunate we are to live in Ponte Vedra Beach.”

The presentation of the awards typically takes place at one of the Rotary club’s weekly meetings but has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such a presentation will take place when and where deemed safe and appropriate.


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