LAKEWOOD RANCH -- One honoree is a neurosurgeon.
Another, a Southeast High School sophomore who wants to be an astrophysicist.
Yet another is an 86-year-old doyenne of Manatee County politics who still wields plenty of clout.
Dr. Kevin Boyer, Zachary Dunn and Pat Glass, respectively, joined three other people and two institutions as honorees at Thursday's inaugural Champions of Healthcare Awards Breakfast, hosted by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce at the Polo Grill Ballroom.
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It was a celebration of the vision, leadership and unity of Manatee County's health care community.
"The people you meet here are bound together in the best and highest use of all our talents and resources in service," said Glass, once a longtime county commissioner and still an advocate for the needy. "We need to celebrate this coming together in the name of a healthy Manatee."
Thursday's festivities also served as a platform to rally support for the county's June 18 half-cent indigent surtax referendum.
"The referendum will sustain a lot of the hard work we put in," Glass said before an audience of 250. "Since we excel in Manatee County in accountability, I think we can trust the fact this referendum is good one."
The tone of urgency struck a chord with chamber President Bob Bartz.
"Between the Florida Legislature arguing how they want to deal with the Medicaid question and how Washington keeps pushing back Obamacare year after year and costs doubling, we think
we have to help ourselves in Manatee County and we cannot wait for somebody else to do it," he said.
Blake Medical Center's Diane Lehman echoed that sentiment.
"There's the saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child?'" the physican relations manager said. "Well, it takes a community to raise our health care issues and get us where we need to be. Bringing us all together as partners is huge."
Lehman, like Glass, was among the following Champions of Healthcare Awards recipients:
n Patricia M. Glass -- Life Achievement.
n Zachary Dunn -- Youth Volunteer.
n Dr. Kevin Boyer -- Physician.
n Terry Doire, RN -- Nurse.
n Diane Lehman -- Allied Health Professional.
n Dr. Steven Tinsworth -- Individual of Merit.
n Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine -- Institution/Program.
n Roskamp Institute -- Innovation/Research.
Dr. Boyer was moved by the adulation.
"To be recognized in this pool of people is really an honor because the other (nominees) are phenomenal, people I look up to," he said. "It sets you into a class of people you respect and it shows they respect you."
Dr. Tinsworth was also touched by his award, but the larger issue of health care for the county's needy resonated with him, too.
"I think it helped connect the dots for a lot of people, so there is more understanding, support, action and discussion," he said. "It will become a community issue, so people can appreciate the connection of health and economic growth."
Thursday morning's unanimity impressed LECOM's Dr. Anthony Ferretti, a Sarasota resident.
"There was a common agreement there needs to be a reconsideration how health care in Manatee County should be looked at," said the assistant dean of clinical education. "I give them props for their unselfishness because they will be affected by that tax. Their attitude was, we know what the needs are and we have to figure out a better way to deal with those needs."
Blake Medical Center's Terry Doire has been serving people with needs for 34 years.
"I don't consider myself a champion," the registered nurse said. "You can make a difference in the little bit you do. Like stopping on the corner and feeding a homeless man's dog. That makes you a champion and you don't want notoriety for that. You just do it to help others lead a better life."
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix