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Outstanding Volunteers Honored at Annual Appreciation Events

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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.