Spirit of Manatee Awards honor ‘givers’ in Manatee
MANATEE – The Manatee Community Foundation’s 12th Annual Spirit of Manatee Awards was kind of like Manatee County’s version of the Oscars, but without those risky envelopes to open.
“Thankfully, our winners are previously announced,” Susie Bowie, executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation, told a crowd of 450 at noon Tuesday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, casually referring to Sunday’s Oscars where a mistake was made in the announcement of Best Picture.
Perhaps the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should take a lesson from the Spirit Awards where the crowd seemed just as thrilled to applaud without having the element of surprise.
But just like at the Oscars, there were some memorable speeches.
John Horne, chief executive officer of Manatee County’s Anna Maria Oyster Bar, included some of his staff as he accepted the Community Corporate Spirit Award after being nominated by PACE Center for Girls.
“We don’t do anything with just one of us,” said Horne, who was followed on stage by about a dozen of his restaurant workers. “I think we emptied the whole dining room.”
Horne said he gets all the credit for the community work the restaurant does, like helping the students at Bradenton’s PACE Center for Girls who visit the restaurants on educational field trips that include how to make healthy, affordable meals, but his staff does all the work.
“So, I wanted them behind me when I got this award,” Horne said.
Just like the Academy Awards, the winners often were inspirational.
When Marti King was presented The Volunteer Spirit Award after being nominated by Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County, she took up the task of defining what “Spirit of Manatee” meant to her, and what came out was poetry.
“My heart is full not just for the organizations in Manatee County but for the beauty of Manatee County,” King said. “My family farm is on the Braden River, along an estuary, and we just live to breathe in the salty air and to know the mystery of the tides and to feel the sunshine and eat the food from the close by earth, and we try to never miss our glorious sunrises and sunsets. Isn’t that the spirit of Manatee County, too? Don’t we love the beautiful, natural community we have?”
The Young Spirit Award was won by the articulate Jordan Ripka Dailey, a student at the State College of Florida. He was nominated by the State College of Florida Foundation and State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.
The Community Spirit Award was won by United Way of Manatee County, which was nominated by the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.
The Leadership Spirit Award went to LeMoyne and Darlene Johnson who were nominated by ArtCenter Manatee, South Florida Museum and Manatee Performing Arts Center.
The Lifetime Spirit Award was presented to Dr. Peter Mattina, who was nominated by Turning Points.
“Each of our Spirit of Manatee winners embodies the spirit of genuine caring about our community,” Bowie said. “Each one found their passion, discovered ways to act on it, made our community a better place and recruited others to their causes.”
“This event is important to Manatee Community Foundation because it’s our role to grow philanthropy in Manatee County,” Bowie added. “This only happens through individuals and organizations who do the hard work.”
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