The Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach and The Ponte Vedra Recorder recognized seven local residents for their contributions to the community last week at the 30th Annual Local Heroes Awards.
Held Thursday, May 26, at Marsh Landing Country Club, this year’s event honored residents whose service to the community includes fighting pediatric cancer, protecting seniors during the pandemic, creating a community athletic club and decades of volunteer service to THE PLAYERS Championship.
Local Heroes Committee Chair Steve Crosby noted that the awards were started in 1993 by Rotarians Vic DiGenti and Chuck Day in partnership with The Ponte Vedra Recorder in order to recognize the “unsung heroes” who give back to the community and reflect the spirit of the Rotary Club’s motto, “Service Above Self.”
The “Local Heroes” Honorees of 2022 include:
John Curington: A member of the Croquet Hall of Fame, Curington was recognized for creating the Ponte Vedra Croquet Club, a community amenity that provides free croquet lessons and the opportunity to enjoy the popular sport to hundreds of local residents.
“John has been described as a visionary — hard working, tenacious and focused,” said Rotarian Vickie Cavey in presenting the award. “He’s an under-the-radar guy with a big heart who’s always putting community first."
Kendall Bryan and Carolyn Boyle: Bryan and Boyle were recognized for their efforts to keep the residents of Vicar’s Landing safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the facility’s director of health, Bryan learned that CVS had ordered too many vaccines that were going to be discarded. Instead, he arranged to have the vaccines administered to Vicar’s Landing residents. As director of nursing, Boyle — an infectious disease control expert — managed the process for resident care. As a result of her efforts, Vicar’s Landing had just seven confirmed cases of COVID out of more than 300 residents in this vulnerable population.
“It has been an incredible journey,” Boyle said. “The Lord put me on this path, and I accept this recognition on behalf of all the team members who embraced the protocols put in place. It was their buy-in and absolute dedication to keep themselves and the residents safe that made it possible.”
Lisa Amato: Lisa Amato was recognized for her efforts to fight pediatric cancer through the creation of The Kate Amato Foundation. Named in honor of Amato’s daughter, who died after a two-year battle with the cancer, the foundation has funded pediatric cancer research grants to the Texas Children’s Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Amato also organizes the Kate Kindness Project, which delivers care packages to sick children and hospital staff; the Kate Kup tennis tournament; and the Kate Classic Golf Tournament to fund further research.
In accepting the award, Amato recognized her husband Jeff as her partner in advancing the foundation’s mission. “Pediatric cancer and the need for research is not talked about enough in this country,” she said, adding that the foundation’s activities are designed to reflect the heart and spirit of their beloved daughter. “Everything we do is to bring the community together.”
Amy Brim: A teacher at Rawlings Elementary School, Brim was honored for her role in overseeing the school’s successful EarlyAct Club. A program affiliated with the Rotary Club, EarlyAct encourages students to become involved in projects that improve the community. Under Brim’s leadership, the Rawlings EarlyAct Club has participated in beach clean-ups, created a “kindness café” stocked with snacks for the school’s teachers and raised $1,500 for the Ronald McDonald House.
“I always tell the kids the most important thing isn’t your brain, but your heart,” said Brim, who thanked Rotarian Dr. Wayne Gordon for his active involvement in leading the club. “That’s my biggest mission: to make sure they know they’re going to change the world through kindness.”
Steve Harrison: A Ponte Vedra native, Harrison was recognized for his 15 years of service as parish administrator of Christ Episcopal Church, where he was instrumental in opening the church to 12-step programs and other community activities.
“Steve has been the behind-the-scenes face of the church, as people showed up at the door asking for support,” Cavey said in presenting the award. “But his impact on our community goes way beyond his church administrator role. His passion for supporting local people in need helps make the community he grew up in the place we all know and love.”
Clare Berry: In presenting this honor, Crosby noted that this was the first time in the 30-year history of the Local Heroes Awards that the Rotary Club had honored one of its members.
“We felt this was a unique situation that we wanted to recognize,” he explained, noting that Berry was being recognized for two milestones: 25 years of service to the Beaches Emergency Assistance Mission (BEAM) and 40 years of service to THE PLAYERS Championship.
“In addition to these milestones, Clare is active in support of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, the Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation, Beaches Museum and many more,” Rotarian Ken Smith said. “Clare loves her community. She is a true friend to many and a true servant leader and champion of the community.”
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