The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, January 28, 2021, at Lido Beach Resort. Award nominees and recipients were recognized and celebrated for their outstanding business achievement, volunteerism, and community engagement.
Congratulations to the following:
Sharon Cunningham Visitor Center Volunteer of the Year
Hollis Higgins, Aloha Kai
Small Business of the Year
Sabal Palm Bank
Large Business of the Year
Mark Smith, Smith Architects, PA
Service & Leadership Award
Siesta Selfless Award
Siesta Key Chapel
Mike Gatz, Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill
Business Person of the Year.
A few weeks ago, I received a call from Mia Leone, Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center & Volunteer Manager. She asked if I’d like to attend the Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, January 28, 2021, at Lido Beach Resort. I told her that it was out of my league. The ticket was quite expensive for me to attend.
She said that the Chamber would cover my cost. “I asked Why?” She told me that I was an award recipient. It was a shock. I couldn’t imagine why. She wanted to keep that a surprise.
I was excited and also intimidated. I had been a volunteer at the visitor center for 5 or 6 years, but it had now been awhile since I had stopped. I was 5 months out from a Whipple procedure for Pancreatic Cancer, and I had lost a considerable amount of weight. I also had a hard time with regulating my body temperature. I was always cold.
I arrived at the event and was greeted by several of the staff. They told me that I could join their table. The room was filled with well dressed members and guests, glowing and connecting with each other in celebration of a successful year past.
The dinner was delicious! Suddenly, it was time for awards. I was second to last and as it became closer, I became very nervous. Several of the recipients gave eloquent speeches filled with colorful anecdotes.
The incoming Chairmen of the Board, Steve Cavanaugh, Tropical Sands Accommodations / REMAX Tropical Sands, came to the podium and gave me an amazing introduction. He began talking about the friendship that began between us 20 years ago. I had come to Steve, hoping that he could find a place for me in his growing accommodations management. He wanted to help me out, but told me that he didn’t feel that I was “tough enough” for the job. He was right.
He then shared the news of my cancer diagnosis. As tears welled up in his eyes, and mine, he expressed his respect for me based on our infrequent encounters over the years. In many words, he remarked that I was a nice guy. He turned it over to Mason Tush, Board Chair (2020), CB’s Saltwater Outfitters to present the award. I went up, in front of a standing ovation, shook Masons hand, and received a beautiful blown glass award.
Wow! It was an amazing night. My heart was full of gratitude and thanksgiving for all who participate in Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and the Siesta Key business owners. And of course, my heart was filled with love and appreciation to God, who makes all things possible.
Siesta Key Annual Awards Dinner