Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Plenty of heart, soul in Tampa Bay area

Mason Dixon, the longtime WQYK-FM 104.7 program director, calls the auto accident that almost took his life 3 1/2 years ago an opportunity most people don't get to experience.

Dixon, whose real name is Jimmie Crawford, shared the story of his near-death experience at the WEDU Be More Awards on Thursday. An accident in June 2005 left Dixon critically injured with broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Doctors had to remove his spleen.

With friends, family — and strangers he never realized he had touched — sending him get-well wishes, Dixon gained an insight perhaps experienced only by a soul looking down from heaven at his funeral.

"It gave me the chance to see how you can make a difference in somebody's life," Dixon said as he dabbed away tears. "I never asked God why it happened. I just thanked him for the opportunity to stay here and I promised we would continue the work we had started with Christmas Wish."

Dixon and his wife Pat Crawford have piloted the Christmas Wish Foundation for 10 years, raising more than $1-million to fulfill the holiday dreams of needy families. Last month, it used $121,000 in donations to help 275 families.

Dixon's volunteer efforts and his past work as host of the Be More Awards, an annual salute to nonprofits, prompted WEDU officials to create the Mason Dixon Be More Involved Award for individual volunteerism. Dixon presents the first award in 2010.

More than 400 people filled A La Carte Pavilion for this year's event, which recognized more than 85 organizations in the PBS station's 16-county coverage area thanks to the help of a judging panel that included yours truly.

Meals on Wheels of Tampa came away as the big winner, capturing the Be More Unstoppable award as nonprofit of the year and the Be More Informed award for creative, original marketing. Meals on Wheels executive director Steve King echoed an event theme by saluting all the organizations.

"Everyone here is passionate about what they do," King said. "I thank all of you for making a difference in our community."

Other winners at what I like to call the area's Academy Awards for nonprofits: Girls Incorporated of Sarasota County; Big Cat Rescue; The Children's Home; Pinellas-based Family Services Center and Sunrise of Pasco County.

The Little Red Wagon Foundation and the Lazy Days Partnership Foundation shared the judge's choice award after teaming up to help Little Red Wagon founder Zach Bonner, 11, complete a walk from Tallahassee to Atlanta.

Bonner shines a spotlight on the plight of homeless children, but he couldn't stay for the completion of the ceremony because he had to fly to Washington to dine with President Bush.

It's such stories that have made Be More an inspiring event, and it's no surprise that PBS stations around the nation have adapted the format, the brainchild of WEDU vice president Laura Turner.

One person told me she left the event ready to conquer the world, and it's important to note that conquerors don't always need money.

Joanne Lighter, president of 2007 nonprofit of the year winner the Spring, said there is no shortage of heart and soul in Tampa Bay.

That's all I'm saying.

Plenty of heart, soul in Tampa Bay area 01/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 16, 2009 11:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Early estimates peg Hurricane Irma damage at as much as $65B

    Banking

    The damage totals from Hurricane Irma are still being tallied, but early numbers are in: As of Tuesday, the storm is estimated to have caused between $42.5 billion and $65 billion of damage. That's according to a Tuesday release by Irvine, Calif.-based analytics company CoreLogic.

    Hurricane Irma is estimated to have caused up to $65 billion in damage, said analytics company CoreLogic. Pictured is 
Hermilo Munoz Castillo as wades down a flooded street to check on his home in southern Collier County, Fla. after Hurricane Irma passed. | [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Port Tampa Bay makes public/private commitment for $60 million expansion project

    Business

    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay approved a public-private partnership agreement with four other entities to divvy up who will pay for a $60 million widening and extension of the Big Bend Channel.

    Port Tampa Bay approved a participation agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Transportation, Tampa Electric Company and Mosaic Company at the port's monthly board meeting on  Tuesday. Port Tampa Bay President & CEO Paul Anderson signs the agreement as Ram Kancharla; Port Tampa Bay's vice president of planning & development, Brandon Burch; project manager at United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lois Moore; of Alcalde and Fay and Charles Klug; Port Tampa Bay principal counsel, and Tim Murphy; deputy district engineer of the Army Corps., looks on. [Company handout]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills more than 40, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico on Tuesday, killing dozens of people, collapsing buildings and scattering rubble on streets less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country's south.

    Rescue workers and volunteers search a building that collapsed after an earthquake in downtown Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico on Tuesday, causing buildings to sway sickeningly in the capital on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that did major damage. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. Hurricane Maria slams Dominica, now takes aim at Puerto Rico

    Hurricanes

    ROSEAU, Dominica — Dominica's leader sent out an emotional plea for help as Hurricane Maria smashed into the Caribbean island causing "mind-boggling" devastation, but an ominous silence followed …

    [National Hurricane Center]
  5. Tampa Bay concert venues offer deals, take donations for Hurricane Irma victims

    Blogs

    After a week-plus of concert cancellations brought on by Hurricane Irma, the Tampa Bay music scene is ready to get back to work. And Irma is still front and center in everyone's minds.

    Victor Wainwright