An established element of the Best of Marathon annual awards is special recognition for members of the community, singled out by the Marathon Rotary Club.
JASON KOLER PERSON OF THE DECADE AWARD
As this is the 10th annual Best of Marathon celebration, it’s time to introduce a new award. It’s special because both the award and the recipient are all about endurance and perseverance and prosperity. It will only be given out once every 10 years to a person who has demonstrated unparalleled commitment to the City of Marathon. The criteria for this award is volunteer service, longevity in the community, steadfast assistance in good times and bad, and someone who embodies the best qualities of Marathon.
This year’s recipient fits all these categories. He is a person who wants to see everyone succeed in whatever they are doing. Over the past 10 years he’s built his business through a combination of hard work and by acting on the principle that we don’t rise alone, but together. So if he says, “Let’s give you some juice,” you know you have been marked for success. This person has spent many evenings and weekend afternoons away from home emceeing events for almost every nonprofit in town. He will be remembered for his jokes at the Habitat for Humanity spelling bee and the Sombrero Beach Run awards celebration, which for some reason he refuses to participate in although he could probably finish the course in just seven loooong steps. He’s flipped countless burgers, and consumed many “sodas” at the city’s 4th of July, and the Pigeon Key festival. He’s supported causes ranging from preserving the Old Seven Mile Bridge, to the rebuild of the hospital, to lowering the speed limit all over Marathon to 35 mph to make his new golf cart totally street legal. After Hurricane Irma, he collected shell-shocked friends and brought them into his office to begin the SBA paperwork. All of these things are true, but it’s this last thing that ALMOST made us nominate SOMEONE ELSE. We had to forgive him this one flaw. He’s a loose cannon, a reckless lunatic when it comes to … spelling.
MIKE PUTO MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
This guy may be biologically incapable of saying no. He has spent almost two decades in Marathon practicing law. But “practicing” is such a mild word for his dedication to justice. Last year, he traveled to Las Vegas and came back with $40,000 in hurricane recovery money he collected from other lawyers (that’s not easy). This man has donated hundreds of hours to pro bono causes alongside the Monroe County Bar Association, Legal Services of Miami and the Put Something Back programs. He is also a huge supporter of the community’s backbone and lends his efforts to help Marathon’s teachers, first responders and nurses. He mentors and coaches Marathon High School students on the mock trial team. He has the love of a good dog, the love of a good woman, and he can put you on the big fish. Richard Malafy is the 2018 Man of the Year.
ROBIN TANNER PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Coach Andra Garvey
Each year this award is given in the memory of one of Monroe County’s finest and the public service that she gave. Robin Tanner served us, protected us and lost her life in the line of duty. This person puts service above self.
It is said that the children are our future. It is well documented that sports make kids better. They learn discipline, teamwork and how to lose. Athletics build confidence, leadership and problem-solving skills that last well beyond youth sports.
The recipient is making our future better by teaching our kids all of these things. We cannot recall a single youth sports event where he wasn’t a coach, umpire, referee, or organizer. Weeknights, weekends, you name it. He has coached many and is adored. He is one of the strongest role models in kids’ lives outside of their own families. Coach Andra Garvey is this year’s Robin Tanner Public Service award winner.
HENRY FLAGLER SETTLER AWARD
This recognition goes to a resident whose vision and determination has made Marathon a better place to live. The recipient of the 2018 award gives of himself in many ways such as serving on the City of Marathon Planning Commission and as a mentor in the Take Stock in Children program. But over the past 12 months he has mostly dedicated himself to ensuring that Marathon residents will have access to quality healthcare for decades to come. He has raised funds locally and convinced friends from afar also to donate. And he has stood at the microphone and told poignant stories about his own family’s positive experiences with Baptist Health South Florida. The 2018 Henry Flagler Settler Award goes to the chairman of the Baptist Fishermen’s Foundation, Mike Leonard. Go buckeyes!
KAY GRADICK WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
The men and women who continuously lead our community with character, grit, humor – and, of course, no fear of getting their hands dirty – set an example for all. One in particular stands out in the Middle Keys. She has unselfishly dedicated her time and energy helping rebuild Marathon over the last 12 months. She’s assisted the city and its residents in finding the right resources for recovery, and stayed civically involved on several boards and committees through the process. The Take Stock in Children Program, Zonta International, Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, Marathon Rotary, and Area Health Education Center are just a few of the organizations with which she is involved – all with the goal of making Marathon the very best it can be. Michelle Coldiron is the Kay Gradick Woman of the Year Award winner.
MOST COMMUNITY MINDED BUSINESS
Discount Rock & Sand
Whether it’s a little rock to fill in a pothole, Porta-Johns at a fundraising event, or constantly coming to the rescue at Crane Point Hammock (or many other of our not-for-profits), the winner of the Community Minded Business award is ALWAYS there, always available. It is the nature of their business to be involved in the activities of this growing and vibrant community, to be there when a hurricane such as Irma devastates this community, and to be part of the community, be available now, not later, and be a part of this community with a smile and an outstanding willingness and generosity to help out. It is our honor to dedicate this year’s Community Minded Business Award to Discount Rock and Sand.
DANIELS FAMILY BEAUTIFICATION AWARD
OK this one is just too obvious!! And, it really ought to be an award in perpetuity, not one for just this year alone. Who do we know that has created magnificent landscape façades that would rival the Harry Potter maze from the Triwizard Tournament? From Tranquility Bay, to Indigo Reef, to Coral Lagoon to a plethora of other outstanding resorts and residences throughout the Keys, we now witness the shaping of a new resort at Isla Bella (Knight’s Key for the uninitiated). And, the entry to this soon-to-be luxurious hideaway, resembles the fabled maze of Ms. Rowling. The winner of the Daniels Family Beautification award is Isla Bella and the Singh Resorts. It takes a team and what a tremendous team it has been for so many years – the Singh Family, Brian Botsford, and Elizabeth Newland. The award was accepted by Corinne Dean.