PLANT CITY George Banning was praised for his leadership, determination and compassion as he was presented with the Plant City Family YMCA’s Strong Leader of the Year award.
A parade of speakers, from friends to business associates, commended the 74-year-old Banning for a lifetime of caring at a banquet in his honor.
They described the Wendy’s franchise owner as a man who takes time to lend a helping hand, from coaxing shy children to participate in YMCA activities to raising money for Rotary Club charities.
“He always has a mission; he always knows where he’s going,” friend and emcee Bruce Rodwell said.
Banning isn’t just one who writes a check to help out: He starts most workdays at 5 a.m. with a workout at the YMCA and spearheads fundraising drives there, among other charitable work, friends said.
The Y has awarded the Strong Leader award since 2003 to a volunteer who has made a big impact on the nonprofit and the community. Previous winners have included City Commissioner Mike Sparkman and Plant City College and Career Counselor Sherrie Mueller.
Banning said he was humbled by the honor.
“I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I am that you are all here tonight,” Banning said after he accepted the award from YMCA board chairman Jason Jones.
He praised the staff at the Plant City Family YMCA.
“I encourage everyone to get involved in the Y,” he said.