Health News

Manatee Chamber's Annual Champions of Health Care honors 9

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Leave it to a 16-year-old to create a stir at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce's Champions of Healthcare Awards Breakfast.

Cheyenne Doeberl, a sophomore at Southeast High School, chose to use technology to get her message across to a crowd of 400 Thursday morning.

Named 2015 Youth Volunteer Award Winner, Doeberl read her acceptance speech from her iPad.

"Steve Jobs was never afraid to change the face of the game, well neither am I," Doeberl said. "For about six years I have wanted to become a doctor. I want to be a neonatologist."

A neonatologist is a doctor who cares for newborn infants. Doeberl plans to go to the University of Florida to get her degrees. She did her volunteer work at the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County, filing paperwork and preparing contraceptives for distribution.

The daughter of Susan and Todd Doeberl, Doeberl is also a certified peer educator for the Healthy Teen Coalition and the founder and

current president of the local chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco.

As the award winner, Doeberl received a $1,000 scholarship from Florida Blue, which she plans to use toward college expenses.

"Cheyenne is passionate about getting the message across to her peers about the importance of making healthy choices," said Dr. Jennifer Bencie of the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County.

Cheyenne's good friend, Susan Jipson, came to the breakfast to support her friend and ended up winning the annual bicycle raffle sponsored by Regions Bank.

The awards breakfast is now in its third year, and its goal is to create a lasting, high-profile awards program that recognizes the accomplishments of people, programs and institutions that make health care in Manatee County something special, said Jonathan Fleece, chairman, Manatee Chamber of Commerce.

Other award winners Thursday included:

Dr. George Thomas, cofounder of Bradenton Cardiology Center, who received a standing ovation when he was presented the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Dr. Thomas has been active in our medical community for 37 years," Vernon DeSear of Manatee Memorial Hospital remarked in a video about Thomas.

The Physician Award went to Dr. Dwight Fitch of 21st Century Oncology.

The Adult Volunteer Award went to Brenda Gatcomb of the American Red Cross.

The technology company, BioLucid, won the Innovation/Research Award.

Manatee Children's Services' Child Protection Team received the Institution/Program Award.

The Allied Health Professional Award went to Jill Gass of We Care Manatee.

"Jill has a great skill set for what she does," said Dane Gass, her husband. "She has had a lot of different life experiences. I call her a Swiss Army knife."

The Nurse Award went to Katie Powers of Manatee Memorial Hospital.

DeSear was named 2015 Individual of Merit.

Fitch's family delivered the biggest cheer of the morning when he won the Physician Award.

"Oh my God, we were all so excited," said his wife, Key Fitch. Those who nominated Fitch, he said, probably appreciate that he gives back to his community every chance he gets.

"I think it's a crime not to," he said.

Thomas also has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Manatee Rural Health Foundation.

Thomas has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Florida Community College Foundation, Manatee Community Blood Bank and the Knight Foundation Bradenton Advisory Board. He was appointed to the State Board of Community Colleges by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Advisory Council by then-President George W. Bush.

The Manatee Chamber of Commerce recognizes how important health care is to the region, Fleece told the crowd.

"Health care comprises a significant portion of our local economy and supports a huge workforce in our county," Fleece said. "The chamber's interest in taking a leadership role in health care issues supports our two-pronged mission, which is to build a positive business environment while enhancing our community's quality of life."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.