Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Volunteerism winners show us how to help

Steve Franks stepped toward the stage at A La Carte Pavilion with the aid of a cane and help from Dara Alexander, president of the ALS Association in Florida.

The emotion grew with each step, made slower by a debilitating neural disease. Franks' eyes began to well, and WRBQ-AM 104.7 radio host Mason Dixon was fighting back tears.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, impairs Franks' walking ability, but it couldn't stop him from winning a WEDU Be More Award Thursday. Dixon, known for his own philanthropic work, presented the Mason Dixon Be More Involved Volunteer of the Year Award to Franks.

Franks, a former golf course attendant from Pinellas Park, drew recognition for his work with the Piece By Piece awareness campaign.

Using limbless mannequins, the campaign illustrates how ALS steals loved ones piece by piece. Although he struggles to walk, Franks can drive and transported the mannequins to 20 different locations.

"I don't feel like I've done much more than anyone else could do," said Franks, who was diagnosed in 2003 and has surpassed the average life expectancy of five years. "I know a lot of people with ALS who can't walk, can't drive or who died, but they would do it if they could."

Franks' moving acceptance speech proved to be the biggest highlight in a series of heart-stirring moments at the fifth annual awards presentation. WEDU, the region's public broadcasting station, showcases some of the top nonprofit groups in its 16-county coverage area by saluting top performers in nine categories.

I serve as one of the judges, and the event brings to life the sterling efforts I've read about on paper. Each winner's work reminds us how charitable organizations make up the foundation of our community.

We stand on the efforts of groups such as the Spring of Tampa Bay, which received the Judges' Choice Award for a collaborative project with WFTS-Ch. 28 that included an Emmy-nominated special encouraging domestic violence victims to seek help.

Community Tampa Bay, a nonpartisan human relations organization, received the Be More Entertaining Award for outstanding achievement in special events. In a difficult economy, its 2009 luncheon netted 38 multiyear pledge members.

Other winners were the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties (People's Choice), Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County (education outreach, marketing) and Girls Inc. of Sarasota County (innovation, nonprofit of the year).

WEDU vice president of communications Laura Fage hopes to add more categories for next year while continuing to help Be More extend to other PBS markets.

Keynote speaker Ryan Nece, the former Buccaneer who launched a successful Power of Giving campaign in 2009, set the tone by challenging the audience to Be More Willing, Be More Hopeful and Be More Connected.

"Hope is what we need to fuel us," Nece said. "We need the hope in this room to permeate the whole community."

Calling upon the dictionary definition of be and more, Nece challenged each person to live or exist at a higher degree.

I'm certain if everyone owned that mantra, we could find the hope needed to bolster these wonderful nonprofit groups and the community.

That's all I'm saying.

Volunteerism winners show us how to help 01/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)

    Golf

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, acitvate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.