Athletes, scholars honored during April luncheons

Athletes, scholars honored during April luncheons

Pictured (l-r): CGWC vice president Debi Van Stone Moore, and board members Gloria Burns and Margie Shanti accept sponsor plaque at ISSF Luncheon

High achieving athletes, coaches and families filled the Doubletree Hilton at Blue Lagoon on Apr. 21 for the annual Miami–Dade County Scholar Athlete Awards. Before the awards were presented, the crowd was inspired by Lauren Book, CEO of Lauren’s Kids, who the day before had completed the organization’s most notable awareness campaign, her annual 1,500-mile “Walk in My Shoes” advocacy and awareness walk from the Southernmost Point of the U.S. in Key West — coast to coast, community to community, all the way up to the steps of the Historic State Capitol in Tallahassee.

With little skin left on her feet and on the way to seek medical attention, this brave, passionate woman took time to speak to the athletes going off to college and share some of her own story of abuse, survival and advocacy to show others that it’s not only okay to tell — the title of Lauren’s memoir — but that it’s okay to heal. Lauren’s first book for children, Lauren’s Kingdom, has been instrumental in creating an opportunity for discussions about personal safety among caregivers and children.

Among the numerous awards presented that day were several from the Junior Orange Bowl Committee presented to scholar athletes by Charles Knight, JOBC president-elect. This is one of many outreach programs for the Junior Orange Bowl whose economic impact is impressive as their prestigious basketball tournament, held over several days in December, is one of many events that bring visitors and revenue to our community.

Four scholarships are awarded to students who participate in either cross country, basketball, tennis, or golf, and two additional scholarships are awarded to tennis players. The following students athletes received awards this year:

Larry Pye Jr., Miami Northwestern, $1,000 tennis; Stephanie Levine, Miami Palmetto, $1,000 tennis; Joseph Levy, Krop, $1,000, tennis;

Elizabeth Hopkins, Miami Beach, $1,000, Basketball and Golf;

Adrian Elkind, Felix Varela, $500, Cross Country, and Lauren Gavulic, Ferguson, $500, Cross Country.

Athletes, scholars honored during April luncheons

Mary Nolan (left) and Ruth Jacobs are pictured in fashionable “Run for the Roses” hats during the Women’s Cancer Association Kentucky Derby party.

While public schools were honoring their scholar athletes, the Independent Schools of South Florida, spearheaded by ISSF executive director Dr. Teri Logan, also held a massive luncheon with more than 800 guests to honor top achievers in 70 of the accredited schools who are members of the organization.

Among the guests at the event were members of the Coral Gables Woman’s Club who were thanked for their ongoing support hosting geography and spelling bees at their clubhouse every year. On hand to accept a plaque in thanks with this writer were CGWC vice president Debi Van Stone Moore and Margie Shanti.

Among the schools at the ISSF luncheon was St. Stephens, an active place on Saturday, May 2, when the church held its second annual Volunteer Appreciation Garden Party where nearly 100 people were lauded for doing the work of 500 in the numerous church ministries from HIV outreach, food for the needy, choir, to free tax preparation for those in need. The beautiful event coordinated by Daisy Lewis Holcombe and church volunteers included a screen for watching the Derby, a movie area for children, a great buffet with recorded as well live entertainment by John Holcombe.

Finally, Ruth Jacobs and Judi Ashworth, with members of the Women’s Cancer Association, held another Derby Party at the Marriott Courtyard raising funds for cancer research. Ladies in festive hats, mint juleps, big screen for races and more made for a fun event. Congratulations to all on continuing this charitable affair.

Until next time, keep making each day count.

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About the Author

Gloria Burns
A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist writing Gloria’s Gab, a column that focuses on the non-profit activity. Burns was Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee for 6 years and then served as the first Executive Director of Coral Gables Community Foundation for 14 years after which she helped the emerging Community Foundation of Pinecrest. Active in many non profits, she received the 2015-16 President's Best Member Award from the GFWC Coral Gables Woman's Club, 2012-13 CGWC Leadership Award, 2012-2013 Rotarian of the Year Award as RCCG Public Relations Chair and Fund raising Co-Chair, 2011 Florida Federation of Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year for the District 11 and honored by the City of Doral as one of their first recipients for the Doralian Women's Award. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education; helps coordinate charity partners for the Westin Colonnade's Annual Give Kids the World Breakfast; serves on the board of directors of Doral Business Council; is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club; serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and is Publicity Chair; and is a member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee. Gloria is also an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where sings sings in the choir. She can be reached at

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