When the Wellness Community was looking for candidates for its annual Celebration of Hope award, it did not have to go very far.
Vernon DeSear is a member of the organization’s board of trustees and has been one of the leaders in helping the cancer support group expand its programs to Manatee County.
Even more importantly, Vernon successfully fought his own battle with cancer several years ago and has a personal understanding of the importance of the Wellness Community.
He was the guest of honor at the fourth annual Manatee County Celebration of Hope banquet last Wednesday at Lakewood Ranch’s Fete Ballroom.
The room was filled with tables of friends and colleagues from the many facets of Vernon’s personal and community involvement.
His wife, Peggy, was by his side, and his niece, Ashlee Liebel, and her husband, Steve, were seated on the other side.
Vernon is vice president of marketing at Manatee Memorial Hospital, and the hospital table included CEO Moody and Natalie Chisholm, Betty Chambliss, and board member Hugh Miller and his wife, Karen.
Vernon’s First Baptist Church family included David Windham, Ashley Canesse and Russ Kitching, and the DeSoto Celebration was represented by Mark and Veenie Goodson and Bob and Tracy Revels.
Manatee Community Foundation president Peg Lowery and Selby Foundation CEO Sarah Pappas were also in the crowd.
The program also included Wellness Community participant Jackie Meaker, who shared some of her own poignant experiences with cancer.
The Wellness Community offers free educational, emotional and physical support to cancer patients and their families.
Susan Wilcox, a Florida native, has lived in Bradenton for more than 20 years. She has been active in many local organizations as a volunteer or an employee.