It was an evening to pay tribute to health care professionals in the community who’ve distinguished themselves as tops in their fields.
A who’s-who list of guests, including prominent businesspeople, city officials and event sponsors turned out for the recent Medical Hero Award dinner at Pepin’s Hospitality Centre, hosted by the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce.
The evening began with a welcome by chamber board member Cindy Kocher, followed by an invocation by Temple Terrace Fire Chief Keith Chapman. Mayor Frank Chillura led the Pledge of Allegiance and Tiffany Coburn from the Toast of Tampa sang an a cappella version of the national anthem.
Noted medical scientist and professional speaker Nick Hall, Ph.D., took on the role of emcee as he recognized the finalists in each of the award’s eight categories and respectively announced the winners.
Award recipients included Mental Health professional Sheryle Baker of the Life Center of the Suncoast; Chiropractor Debra Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Chiropractic Centre; Dentist Julio Maya of Today’s Dentistry, and Medical Specialist Peter Dunne from the James A. Haley VA Medical Center.
Dean Christensen, medical director for the Temple Terrace Fire Department, was the winning primary-care physician; Richard Gray from Florida Medical Clinic was named top surgeon; Charles Lambert of the Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute was the award-winning researcher; and Charles Cox, a world-renowned breast cancer clinician, surgeon and researcher, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Cox is a professor of breast surgery at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and medical director of the on-campus Morsani Ambulatory Surgery Center.
He was instrumental in the 1984 founding of the university’s Comprehensive Breast Health Program, which in 1986 was moved to the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, also on Tampa’s USF site.
In 1998, Harper’s Bazaar cited Cox as being among the leading experts in his field.
During an impromptu speech following the award presentation, Cox said he was humbled by the recognition.
“I think the overriding consideration is no one cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care,” he said.
He followed by noting that his definition of a hero is someone who puts into action selfless behavior.
“I look at the people who surround me who exemplify selflessness and they are the people I work with and treat,” Cox said. “I truly believe they are the heroes.”
They are the people to whom Cox said he owes his life.
“They are the ones that make all this possible,” said Cox, with a noticeable quiver in his voice.
Jamie Klingman, Temple Terrace chamber board chairman, said she was thrilled by the large number of people who turned out to honor the community’s outstanding health care professionals.
“On behalf of the board of directors and the greater Temple Terrace chamber, thank you to all of those who go above and beyond to ensure our health today and in the future,” Klingman said.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]