Community Honors Nonprofits at the 7th Annual WEDU Be More Awards

Winners Announced for the “Academy Awards for Nonprofits”

TAMPA, FL – WEDU, west central Florida’s primary PBS television station, recognized more than 61 non-profit organizations and individuals in the area who applied for honors and recognition in the seventh annual WEDU Be More AwardsTM, held Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa. Great stories, unscripted moments, inspirational messages and nail-biting anticipation were at the heart of the celebration that has become known as the Academy Awards for Nonprofits.

Hosted by WEDU, the WEDU Be More AwardsTM luncheon is one of the station’s premier events and paid tribute to outstanding achievements made by dedicated and generous individuals, as well as nonprofit organizations, for 2011. For the fourth consecutive year, Tampa Bay’s own Jack Harris, legendary media personality and co-host the WFLA radio morning show, served as a WEDU Be More AwardsTM Master of Ceremonies. Joining Mr. Harris as co-host this year was Lissette Campos, award- winning journalist, Director of Community Affairs for ABC Action News and host of the Positively Tampa Bay segment seen weekdays on ABC in the Tampa area. Together, Mr. Harris and Ms. Campos led the event for a more than 480 guests through an afternoon filled with heartfelt stories and encouraging messages. Sonya Little from the City of Tampa also joined the celebration and presented the Mayor’s proclamation recognizing February 9th as WEDU Be More AwardsTM Day; this is the seventh annual Be More Awards Day proclamation made by the City. These special guests, along with honorary WEDU Be More Awards®, philanthropist and NFL Veteran Ryan Nece, applauded heroic and valiant efforts made every day by the nonprofit community, and the outstanding achievements winners made by individual volunteers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations.

The event kicked off with a special recognition award. The Be More Dedicated – Award for Devoted Service was awarded in a heartfelt presentation to Mary Leah Brainard, Vice President of Administration and Human Resources, for 50 years of service to WEDU.

The 2012 WEDU Be More Award winners are:

Application Categories:

Be More…Informed Marketing Campaign Award ~ Broadening horizons through creative and results-driven original marketing campaigns using multimedia platforms is the basis of this award. Through the use of broadcast, print, social media and/or community awareness campaigns, the organization demonstrated direct impact to established goals. (Proudly sponsored by: The Nielsen Company)

WINNER: More Health, Inc.

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit
Suncoast Community Health Centers
The Pier Aquarium


Be More…Entertaining Special Events Award ~ Special events can achieve a multitude of goals and the organization that demonstrates the most successful – based on measureable objectives – took home this honor. This could be a related series of events, or one particularly original special event or fundraiser to recognize, salute, assist, celebrate people or businesses, brand the organization and/or build/strengthen relationships with supporters.

WINNER: The Junior League of Tampa Bay, Inc.

Florida Institute for Community Studies (FICS)
Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, Inc.
Wheels of Success


Be More…Brilliant Innovation Award ~ Originality is the single most important ingredient in this category. The organization that developed an original idea and displays/delivers it in a uniquely creative way as a means to achieve organizational goals was recognized. (Proudly Sponsored by: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida)

WINNER: Lazydays Employee Foundation

Children First, Inc.
Starting Right, Now

Suncoast Community Health Centers, Inc.
Take Stock in Children of Sarasota County
The Pier Aquarium


Be More…Enriched Arts & Culture Award ~ Culturally-based organizations contribute to the spirit of adventure and exploration through education in the arts, and bring rich and engaging experiences to audiences who might not otherwise have opportunities to witness or be an active participant. This award recognized outstanding achievement specifically for programs related to the arts, performance, historic or zoological exhibits.

WINNER: Asolo Repertory Theatre

Glazer Children’s Museum
The Pier Aquarium


Be More…Knowledgeable Educational Outreach ~ Nonprofit organizations strive every day to educate their audience about their mission/services or a particular endeavor. This award was bestowed upon the one organization that, through a specific project, offered guidance, knowledge, emotional or physical support, and/or a mentorship program aimed at improving specific aspects of community life and introducing and/or conducting programs to enrich and empower the community.

WINNER: Glazer Children’s Museum

Housing and Education Alliance, Inc. Project Prosper, Inc.
Roskamp Institute
Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center, Inc.
Online Categories:


Be More…Humble The People’s Choice Award ~ This award was driven by an online poll with more than 25,000 [unique] votes from the general public in the WEDU viewing area. The poll automatically included a listing of all organizations that submitted an application, regardless of category. This prestigious award exhibits the connection and relationship the organization has with the community and the people it serves. It allows area citizens to honor the nonprofit that they feel most exemplifies the spirit of the community. (Proudly sponsored by Foelgner, Ronz & Straw, P.A.)

WINNER: Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc.

AMI Kids, Inc.
Children First, Inc.
Operation PAR
The Junior League of Tampa, Inc.


Be More…Relevant Best Use of Video ~ A short video that will, or has, compelled someone to seek services; volunteer their time or support an organization financially.

WINNER: Lazydays Employee Foundation

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, Inc. Enable America
Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center Starting Right, Now


Be More…Entrepreneurial Rising Star Award ~ The nonprofit community is in need of leaders and this award was presented to an individual, under the age of 30, who has distinguished themselves by using entrepreneurial skills to build a successful endeavor [in the nonprofit arena] that can be directly accredited to their inspiration, motivation and business acumen. (Proudly Sponsored by: The Tampa Bay Times)

Winner: T Hampton Dorhman (Hampton Arts Management)

Alice Darrow (Frou Frou Flip Flops)
Zachary Bonner (Little Red Wagon Foundation)
Judges Categories:


Be More…Encouraged Judge’s Choice Award ~ The Judge’s Choice Award is given to an organization demonstrating an overall appeal due to its original and extraordinary approach to its respective endeavor and/or providing an independent voice for those less heard. Not necessarily driven by an organization’s measurable results, this award is decided entirely by the WEDU Be More AwardTM judges based on majority vote and consensus.

WINNER: Lazydays Employee Foundation

Moffitt Cancer Center
Project Prosper
Starting Right, Now
The Spring of Tampa Bay, Inc. Wheels of Success


Be More…Involved The Mason Dixon Be More Involved – Award for Volunteerism ~ One person can make an extraordinary difference and these award finalists were culled from an online poll driven by votes from the general public in the WEDU viewing area. Mason Dixon, community philanthropist and Q105 radio personality, ultimately chose and presented the award to the most-deserving recipient – from the five finalists – that received the most online support.

WINNER: Donna Hunter

Anthony Rizzo
Devante Robinson
Doug Durand
Virginia Papdopoulos


Be More…Giving The Ryan Nece Foundation Power of Giving Award ~ NFL Veteran, WEDU Board Member and Founder of the Ryan Nece Foundation, Ryan Nece delivered a compelling and inspiring keynote address at the 2010 Be More Awards ceremony on be-ing more and The Power of Giving. His message resonated throughout the community which led to the creation of this award. This honor was bestowed upon the organization / individual/family who by the use of a simple altruistic gesture of time, talent or treasure, made a tremendous impact in someone’s life. Judges determined six semi-finalists based on newsgathering with media partner ABC Action News; Mr. Nece narrowed the semi-finalists to three finalists and decided the ultimate winner of his namesake award.

WINNER: Deronda Hills

Scott Fink
Gio Brothers
Team Hope (Organized by Alison Payne)
Judge Tracy Sheehan
Dan & Nicole Long


Be More…Unstoppable Nonprofit Organization of the Year ~ This award is the most coveted and is determined through extensive research. It is ultimately decided by an independent judging committee and given to one organization that, through a superior level of service, helps their constituency be more. Selected from all submitted applications, the criteria to win this award consists of overall organizational excellence; fulfillment of the Four Commitments to the Community, including service to the organizations’ constituency, level of community impact, financial viability and embodiment of overall community goodwill. In addition to many other benefits, the organization recognized with this award received a $1,000 WEDU Community Investment Grant.

WINNER: Starting Right, Now

Glazer Children’s Museum
Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, Inc.
Lazydays Employee Foundation
The Spring of Tampa Bay

The complete 2012 ceremony will be available on WEDU’s website at and will be featured during an upcoming Up Close with Cathy Unruh. (Check local listing for times.)

Created by WEDU, the WEDU Be More AwardsTM has become a nationally-recognized, award-winning program and special initiative of PBS stations throughout the country who can best tell local success stories of their unsung heroes, generate awareness for nonprofit organizations and celebrate the spirit of goodwill throughout their own communities. There is no charge for a nonprofit organization to apply for recognition, and the exposure provided by the PBS station throughout the program offers substantial credibility and promotion of an organizations’ mission. Additionally, the Be More Awards program serves as a fundraising and community partnership event for each PBS station, also a deserving nonprofit organization in their individual community.

The 2012 ceremony, celebrating outstanding achievements by individuals and nonprofit organizations in west central Florida, was also a fundraising event for WEDU. The event was is supported in part by The Bank of Tampa, ABC Action News, The Verizon Foundation, Happy Feet Plus, Tampa Bay Times, Foelgner, Roz & Straw, P.A., The Nielsen Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Levy Marketing and Awards, A La Carte Event Pavilion, AVSS – Audio Visual Support Service, Inc., American Marketing and Mailing Services, Inc and Bernard F. and Mary Ann Powell Foundation.

To obtain more information about each of the 2011 WEDU Be More Awards winners, please contact Allison Hedrick at [email protected] or 813.739.2940.