On Saturday, December 17, 2016 at 1100 hours, the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District held their annual awards ceremony however this year it was made into an Awards Banquet and the food was provided by Sonny’s BBQ. Sonny’s BBQ was one of the prizes that the District received from winning both 1st Place and People’s Choice in the annual Morton’s Market Chili Cook-off.
Before dinning on this great food, the District gave numerous awards to their employees as well as citizen recognitions.

For 2016 the following employees received the following awards:
Rookie Firefighter of the Year – Firefighter/EMT Jordan Velazquez
Firefighter of the Year – Firefighter/EMT Chuck Moonen
Officer of the Year – Lieutenant/EMT Sean Conner
Staff Employee of the Year – Suzann Moore

In addition to these awards, the following employees received the Phoenix Award for saving the life of a patient in cardiac arrest back on July 18, 2016:
Firefighter/EMT Duane Ely
Firefighter/EMT Chris Snider
Lieutenant/EMT Robert Thayer
Ms. Nancy Bognar received a Certificate of Appreciation for her generous donation of the Fire Department Christmas Ornaments.

We also recognized Mrs. Cheryl Gaynor for her selfless action and outstanding act of heroism when she witnessed Mrs. Mary Anne Smith drive her car off the road and into a lake. Mrs. Smith hit another car at an intersection and her vehicle immediately went into a nearby lake and began to sink. Mrs. Gaynor witnessed it and jumped into the water to rescue her. By the time Mrs. Gaynor got to the car, the water was all the way up to the doors and Mrs. Smith’s car was sinking fast. Mrs. Gaynor told Mrs. Smith to go out through the rear hatch-back of the car that Mrs. Gaynor opened. Mrs. Smith then went into the back of the car where Mrs. Gaynor grabbed her and brought her to the shore where our personnel found her. Because of the quick action by Mrs. Gaynor, she saved the life of Mrs. Smith.
When our personnel arrived on scene, Mrs. Smith’s car had already sunk to the bottom of this lake. Both Mrs.
Gaynor and Mrs. Smith were present at our awards banquet and the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District
awarded Mrs. Gaynor with the “Exceptional Duty Commendation” for a citizen.
After giving out all of these awards, everyone then enjoyed a great meal that was provided by Sonny’s BBQ.
Our Award Banquet ran from 1100 hours to 1400 hours and it was held at the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue
Administration Building so that all on-duty personnel could be rotated through to enjoy this meal.

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