LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Bob and Billie Delaney became the second couple to be named John A. Clarke Humanitarians of the Year by the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund on Friday.
Bob Delaney, former undercover police investigator, NBA referee and author, might be the famous one, but he said he couldn’t do what he does without the full participation and support of his wife, Billie.
In accepting the award, named after the first recipient, the former president and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Bob Delaney talked about the service and sacrifice of members of the American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has visited those troops several times in war zones and in the military hospital in Germany where many go to recover from wounds.
The willingness of those Americans to serve their country offers an example of how to serve and sacrifice for others, he said.
He thanked the selection committee on behalf of 19 charitable organizations that shared $64,000 in grants announced Friday. “We are humbled by this award,” he said.
Committee member Bob Borkowski announced the award, and cited Delaney’s contributions ranging from inspiring children at Bayshore Elementary School, to working to combat post-traumatic stress syndrome, supporting the 13th Avenue Community Center in Bradenton, and much more.
Previous recipients of the award include John Clarke, Don O’Leary, Pat Neal, Lorraine and Dick Vitale, Darrell Turner and Stuart J. Roth.
Diane Brune, president-elect of the community fund, said the organization is already planning fundraising activities for the upcoming year, including a return of the Out East Gala on April 20 at Polo Grill. “Mark your calendars and shine your shoes,” she said.
Dick Wharton, who chaired the grant selection committee, said this year’s focus was on education, health and human services.
The largest grant, $6,000, went to Cancer Support Community-Florida Suncoast to assist in the “give me a break family nights and weekend” camp program for children and parents.
“The program provides families with respite from the daily grief and stresses from living with a loved one impacted by cancer,” according to grant officials.
Meals on Wheels PLUS, which strives to feed those in danger of going hungry in the community, received a grant of $5,233.
Several organizations received grants of $5,000, including:
n Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast for a mentoring program for at-risk students moving from middle to high school.
n Easter Seals Southwest Florida to support Project Rainbow Respite Care for families with medically fragile, chronically ill or disabled children.
n Foundation for Dreams for scholarships for residents living in Lakewood Ranch to attend summer camp programs at Dream Oaks Camp.
n Goodwill Foundation to provide a job connection specialist at the Goodwill location at Lakewood Ranch.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at (941) 745-7021.