Everyday heroes take a bow at annual Champions for Children

Everyday heroes take a bow at annual Champions for Children

Champions for Children honorees and Trust president/CEO James R. Haj
(Photo by Gregory Reed)

Hundreds of child and family advocates streamed into the Adrienne Arsht Center Knight Concert Hall on Aug. 25 to take part in the 2016 Children’s Trust Champions for Children awards, a celebration of the people and programs making Miami-Dade County a better place to live and grow.

The event was marked by music and dance performances, documentary-style videos of those being honored, and straight-from-the-heart words of gratitude from award winners.

Michael Duchowny, MD, director of neurology training programs and founder of the pediatric epilepsy program at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, in accepting the David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children award, said, “I am honored to work with the families who put their trust in us.”

He continued, saying that being able to give children and families hope for their future “has been a remarkable gift.”

Amber Wilcox, director of special education at Miami Senior High School, received the Excellence in Direct Service award for her double-duty work as the lead teacher at Leadership Learning Center at St. John Bosco in Little Havana.

“I’m privileged to work in this community, and I’m grateful to The Children’s Trust for helping us keep our doors open,” Wilcox said.

State Sen. René García and State Rep. José Félix Díaz were recognized jointly with Excellence in Public Policy awards, for their efforts in striking down the five-year waiting period for legally residing immigrant children to access state-subsidized KidCare health insurance, a seven-year battle that ended earlier this year.

And a trio of providers were honored with Program of the Year awards: Miami Lighthouse for the Blind’s Blind Babies program, University of Miami’s Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and Silvia’s School in Hialeah.

Woven throughout the evening were performances from participants in the annual countywide youth talent search Young Talent Big Dreams, a joint initiative of The Trust and the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables.

The subject of gun violence was highlighted during the program.

As a video of Area Stage Company performing “Seasons of Love” from the Tony-award winning musical Rent splashed across a giant screen, images of children began popping up on screen one by one. There were 30 in total, all recent victims of gun violence. At the same time, two groups of women stepped out onto the stage from either side in darkness, meeting each other in the middle. Halfway through the video, the stage lights went up to reveal a line of grieving mothers, some quietly sobbing, clutching oversized photos of the children they would never again hold in their arms.

The last award announced, and the only one kept under wraps until the moment his name was read aloud, went to The Children’s Trust

“Employee of the Year,” Cravel Holmes.

“All the years I’ve been at The Trust, this is the first time no one leaked who the winner was,” Holmes said.

For the first time since its inception, Champions for Children was free for all guests, thanks to the generous support of sponsors.

2016 Champions for Children sponsors:

Gold — City National Bank;
Silver Plus — TD Bank;
Silver — Baptist Health South Florida, Citrus Health Network, Florida Blue, JP Morgan Chase, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Publix Charities and United Way of Miami-Dade;
Bronze — Akerman, Children’s Rehab Network, El Rey Enterprises, FIU Center for Children and Families, FPL, Levy & Associates, Miami University Health System and WELS Systems Foundation;
Partner — AlphaStaff, AXA Advisors and M Network.

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