You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Outstanding Volunteers Honored at Annual Appreciation Events

User News Image
More than 30 honored for their compassion and commitment to our lifesaving mission.

The American Red Cross of Central Florida celebrated National Volunteer Month with a series of appreciation events across the region recognizing extraordinary individuals for their time and talents. More than 30 were honored for their compassion and commitment to the lifesaving mission of the organization.

“As we celebrate 100 years of service to Central Florida this year, we are especially grateful to our volunteers -- past and present -- who are the heart of our organization,” said Katherine Lixey, Regional Volunteer Lead. “We are humbled to have the support of over 2,000 regional volunteers who help us fulfill our lifesaving mission every single day.”

More than 90 percent of the American Red Cross work force is composed of volunteers, including 2,000 who support the 19-county Central Florida region. Those selected for special recognition were nominated by their peers for their personal commitment and outstanding contributions.

2017 honorees included:

Volunteer of the Year (Highest Honor)

Sharon Burns, Tampa Bay Chapter

Brenda Gatcomb, Southwest Florida

Richard “Bear” and Linda Haskins, Mid Florida Chapter

Denise Whitcomb, Florida’s Space Coast Chapter

Lesli White, Greater Orlando Chapter

Rookie of the Year Award

Al Adams, Southwest Florida Chapter

Alex Brehm, Greater Orlando Chapter

Aurora Harris, Florida’s Space Coast Chapter

Steven Hartline, Greater Orlando Chapter

Patty McGown, Florida’s Space Coast Chapter

Norma “Cinnamon” Reyes, Mid Florida Chapter

Jeff Shrout, Tampa Bay Chapter

Volunteer Spirit Award

Sadie Bart and Sandra Howell, Mid Florida Chapter

Alan Binau, Greater Orlando Chapter

Sandy Chrzczonowski, Southwest Florida

Mike Griffin, Tampa Bay Chapter

Charles & Barbara Krystynak, Florida’s Space Coast Chapter

Gordon Lewis, Florida’s Space Coast Chapter

Frank Nauer, Tampa Bay Chapter

Mary O’Donnell, Greater Orlando Chapter

Ryan Pickunis, Mid Florida Chapter

Special Citation for Exceptional Volunteer Service Award

Joanne Bibb, Mid Florida Chapter

Kathy Gregory, Florida’s Space Coast Chapter

Judi Hansberry, Greater Orlando Chapter

Randy Hembree, Mid Florida Chapter

John Lanzetti, Greater Orlando Chapter

Mike Lyons, Tampa Bay Chapter

Bob & Sue Paganelli, Southwest Florida

Clara Barton Award

Karen Bird, Tampa Bay Chapter

Joe Lucas, Southwest Florida

Sandy Moyer, Mid-Florida Chapter

Pedro Quinones-Calcano, Florida’s Space Coast Chapter

Michelle Shepard, Greater Orlando Chapter

In Central Florida, trained Red Cross volunteers respond to an average of three disasters a day – 93 percent of which are home fires – and come to the aid of more than 4,000 people each year affected by devastating disasters like tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. Red Cross health and safety instructors teach thousands more life-saving skills each year so our communities can be better prepared for what may come. Another program, Services to the Armed Forces (SAF), helps and supports an average of 10,000 members of the military, veterans and their families each year.

To learn more joining the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to be connected to the nearest chapter.

The Central Florida Region of the American Red Cross serves 19 counties through five chapters: Florida’s Space Coast (Daytona Beach), Greater Orlando, Mid-Florida (Winter Haven), Southwest Florida (Sarasota) and Tampa Bay. For more information, visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.