Finalists Named for Seventh Annual WEDU Be More Awards

DECEMBER 27, 2011 (Tampa, FL) — Continuing the tradition of honoring Tampa Bay area nonprofit organizations, dedicated staff, volunteers and individuals, the seventh annual WEDU Be More Awards™ will take place on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa. The annual event, recognized as the “Academy® Awards for Nonprofits,” begins at 11:00am with the Hall of Heroes followed by a luncheon and awards ceremony starting at 12:00pm. Utilizing a panel of impartial judges who spent four weeks reviewing applications and nominations, WEDU, west central Florida’s leading PBS station and public media source, recognizes nonprofit organizations and individuals who have applied or were nominated for honors in a variety of categories ‐ culminating with one organization being named Nonprofit Organization of the Year (2011).


Be More… Informed

Marketing Campaign Award – Broadening horizons through creative and results-driven original marketing campaigns using multimedia platforms.

  • Hillsborough Area Regional Transit
  • More Health, Inc.
  • Suncoast Community Health Centers
  • The Pier Aquarium

Be More… Entertaining

Special Events Award – A series of events or one particularly original special event/fundraiser to recognize, salute, assist, celebrate people or businesses, brand the organization and/or build/strengthen relationships with supporters.

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

Be More… Brilliant

Innovation Award – The organization that develops an original idea and displays/delivers it in a uniquely creative way to achieve organizational goals. (A TIE resulted in 6 finalists in this category.)

  • Children First, Inc.
  • Lazydays Employee Foundation
  • Starting Right, Now
  • Suncoast Community Health Centers, Inc.
  • Take Stock in Children of Sarasota County
  • The Pier Aquarium

Be More… Enriched

Arts & Culture Award – This award will recognize outstanding achievement specifically for programs related to the arts, performance, historic or zoological exhibits.

  • Asolo Theatre, Inc.
  • The Glazer Children’s Museum
  • The Pier Aquarium

Be More… Knowledgeable

Educational Outreach – Bestowed upon the one organization that, through a specific project, offers guidance, knowledge, emotional or physical support, and/or a mentorship program aimed at improving specific aspects of community life.

  • 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 from the general public in the WEDU viewing area. This prestigious award exhibits the connection and relationship the organization has with the community and the people it serves.

  • AMIKids, Inc.
  • Children First, Inc.
  • Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, 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.

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

Be More… Involved

The Mason Dixon Award for Volunteerism – 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, will ultimately choose and present the award to the most-deserving recipient – from the five finalists – that received the most online support.

  • Doug Durand
  • Donna Hunter
  • Virginia Papadopoulos
  • Anthony Rizzo
  • Devante Robinson

Be More… Entrepreneurial

Rising Star Award – 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 and motivation.

  • Zachary Bonner
  • Alice Darrow
  • T. Hampton Dohrman

Media Research Categories

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 which led to the creation of this award. This honor will be 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 five finalists based on newsgathering with media partner ABC Action News. Mr. Nece decided the ultimate winner of his namesake award.

  • Scott Fink
  • Gio Brothers (John, Nick, Anthony and Carmen Gio)
  • DeRonda Hills
  • Dan & Nicole Long
  • Team Hope (Organized by Alison Payne)
  • Judge Tracy Sheehan

Judges’ Categories

Be More… Encouraged

Judges 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. This award is decided entirely by the WEDU Be More Award™ judges based on majority vote and consensus. (A TIE resulted in 6 finalists in this category.)

  • Lazydays Employee Foundation
  • Moffitt Cancer center
  • Project Prosper
  • Starting Right, Now
  • The Spring of Tampa Bay
  • Wheels of Success

Be More… Unstoppable

Nonprofit Organization of the Year Award – 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 receives a $1,000 WEDU Community Investment Grant.

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

Tampa Bay’s own Jack Harris, legendary media personality and co‐host the WFLA radio morning show along with 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 will serve as the 2012 WEDU Be More Awards™ co‐hosts. NFL Veteran and founder of his namesake foundation, Ryan Nece, serves as the Honorary Champion of the 2012 ceremony. Tickets for the WEDU Be More Awards™ luncheon and ceremony taking place on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the A La Carte Event Pavilion are $50 per person, $600 for Community Heroes table for 10, or $1,000 for a Philanthropist table of 10. For more information or to make reservations for the WEDU Be More Awards™ – an inspiring celebration of community goodwill – visit or call WEDU at (800) 354‐9338, x2241. The deadline for reservations is Friday, February 3, 2012. The 2012 ceremony, celebrating outstanding achievements by individuals and nonprofit organizations in west central Florida, is supported in part by The Bank of Tampa, Verizon Foundation, St. Petersburg Times, A La Carte Event Pavilion, AVSS, American Marketing and Mailing Services, ABC Action News, Foelgner, Ronz &Straw, Nielsen, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Happy Feet Plus, Bernard F. & Mary Ann Powell Foundation. Highlights from 2012 ceremony and interviews with the WEDU Be More Award winners, will be featured during the WEDU Be More Awards™ Be More Inspired primetime television special premiering on WEDU in early Spring (date/time TBD).

ABOUT THE WEDU BE MORE AWARDS™ Created by WEDU, the WEDU Be More Awards™ 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.