March of Dimes honors its volunteers at event

Published: Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 6:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 6:27 p.m.

The North Central Florida Division of the March of Dimes honored outstanding volunteers and recognized and celebrated the dedication of all its volunteers during an Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner held recently at the Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel.

More than 175 volunteers representing Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lake, Levy, Marion and Putnam counties, as well as the Suwannee Valley area, attended the event.

Betty Brunson was recognized as the Alachua County Volunteer of the Year.

Brunson, who is the store manager at the Westgate Publix, helped lead Publix’s March of Dimes team this year, as the company raised more than $102,000.

Brunson also organized an effort where Publix associates at each of the 13 local Publix stores prepared and delivered meals to the families of babies who were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Shands at UF for the 26 days leading up to the March for Babies in March.

Danny Ponce received the North Central Florida Division Volunteer of the Year Award.

Ponce and his wife, Nancy Ponce, became involved with the March of Dimes in 2003, and in 2011 served as chairs for both the Alachua and Gators March for Babies events.

Danny Ponce, who also was instrumental in recruiting several new sponsors for the March of Dimes, and Nancy Ponce continue to host events to honor the organization’s donors and volunteers.

Linda Bennett, Jodi Bennett and Phil Bennett of Sun Country Sports Center received the North Central Florida Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award.

Each year, Sun Country Sports Center provides logistical support at the March for Babies and raises thousands of dollars.

In partnership with the March of Dimes Chain Reaction Youth Leadership Council, Sun Country Sports Center hosted the 2011 Halloween carnival Howl-a-Palooza, which raised $7,000.

Maureen and Vern Lloyd, of Suwannee County, received the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement Award for their dedication and service to March of Dimes events in the Suwannee Valley area.

The couple’s efforts in organizing the annual Suwannee Valley Signature Chefs Auction has made the auction one of the community’s signature events, raising more than $50,000 this year.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization that advocates for healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies everywhere.

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