Amidst the pageantry and patriotic revelry found at the 5th Annual “Race to the 4th” event, a yearly celebration held at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Event Chair, Councilwoman Judy Waldman, took the time to recognize some invited members of our nation’s military for the many acts of kindness they have displayed for the benefit of the community they serve.
Along with Councilwoman Waldman, this very special occasion was presided over by Brigadier General Sean P. Mulholland, Commander of Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH.) Also on hand was event Co-Chair State Senator Dwight Bullard, U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia, Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter, Vice Mayor Stephen Shelley, Councilman Jimmie L. Williams, III, and Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough.
Councilwoman Waldman first implemented the Kindness Award in 2002 as a way to recognize random acts of kindness by everyday citizens. The award was inspired by the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s decimation of the Homestead area and the acts of courage by its citizenry in response to the devastation.
“The true meaning of ‘community’ is when a fellow neighbor is in need, when a stranger cries in distress, someone is there with a helping hand,” said Councilwoman Waldman, who spearheaded the event. “These amazing people on this stage with me this evening are the very embodiment of what this Kindness Award celebrates. Not only do they defend the freedoms we all enjoy in this country with their sacrifices but they still find the time to give back to their community in other ways. What better moment to recognize them than during our Nation’s birthday.”
In addition to the medal, all the honorees received a “kindness card.” These cards are a service of local CBS affiliate Channel 4’s Neighbors to Neighbors segment where children create a piece of artwork with a message to pay the kindness forward. The councilwoman asks that if you witness an act of kindness to pass on the card, let her know and she’ll provide another one. The City of Homestead, the State of Florida and the United States Congress also awarded certificates of appreciation to the honored guests.
During the presentation, Councilwoman Waldman went from award giver to recipient when Peter Caspari, Dept. of Defense Vice Chairman of Employer Outreach for the State of Florida took to the stage. He had with him a framed certificate, otherwise known as SoS (Statement of Support.)
“It is my honor to award Councilwoman Waldman with our ‘Statement of Support’ for her unwavering support of our military and its veterans especially the Guardsmen and Reservists that the City of Homestead employs,” said Mr. Casapari.
Among the seven Kindness Award recipients was U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Maurer, who was promoted on stage from Sargent to Staff Sargent by General Mulholland. Staff Sgt. Maurer is Satellite Operators Team Chief assigned to support SOCSOUTH and a valued member of the Homestead community consistently volunteering in several causes benefiting at-risk youth. Also honored were U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Two Jay D. Anderson-U.S. liaison to Guatemala for SOCSOUTH and a proud member of the famed Green Berets, U.S. Army Capt. Daisy Bueno-Public Affairs Officer for SOCSOUTH, volunteers during the holidays for SOCSOUTH families and is an animal activist, U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Alan Baker-12 year veteran of Seal Team 8 who supports local high school JROTC programs, U.S. Air Force Major Patricia Castro-Logistics planner responsible for the transport of all vehicles and personnel in South America and a marathon runner, U.S. Marine Col. George E. Cadman, III (retired)-South Dade High graduate, Vietnam Veteran and former Chairman of the Board at Baptist Health South Florida and U.S. Air Force Capt. Walter W. Wyatt (retired)-Distinguished WWII veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart who was rescued in the mountains of China after the war had ended.