The Osceola Chamber celebrated Three Kings Day in Osceola County for the 19th year on…
It was a “Night for Champions” at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort on January 29th when the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce celebrated our 97th Annual Meeting with an evening awards program. It was a chilly Florida night outside, but inside the Coronado ballroom was full of warmth and friendship among a 400+ strong group of Chamber members who gathered to see the gavel pass from 2020-2021 Board Chair Adrianna Sekula of PureCycle Technologies to 2022 Chairman Kevin Crain with Osceola Press – Printing & Signs.
The evening began with a cocktail reception in an adjoining ballroom, complete with full bars and appetizers that included a cheese display, egg rolls, and dumplings, which attendees enjoyed at candlelit cocktail rounds. A silhouette artist was on hand to create souvenir silhouette cutouts for anyone willing to sit for 90 seconds. Back in the hotel foyer, a photo booth provided by RTW Photography was ready to take souvenir photos (complete with fun props, of course) for groups of colleagues, friends, or family. A silent auction of items donated by Chamber members benefited the Chamber’s 501(c)3 arm, The Chamber Foundation.
The evening was themed “A Night for Champions,” which included primarily black-and-gold décor and multiple opportunities throughout the night to celebrate the achievements of Chamber members both within the Chamber and in their own lines of work. Said Chairman Kevin Crain, “This Annual Meeting is about you, the people in this room, the strength of the reigning Florida Chamber of the Year. That’s why tonight’s theme is “A Night for Champions.” He thanked Chair Sekula and presented her with a crystal gavel. We are very grateful to Adrianna, who despite the hardships of the last few years, led the Chamber through a successful re-branding initiative that will launch this month, and carried the Chamber and its members through the pandemic with a positive outlook for the year ahead.
Representing the evening’s host, Elizabeth Watkins, Government Relations Manager at Walt Disney World Resort, welcomed everyone to the Coronado Springs Resort. Accompanied by Minnie Mouse, Elizabeth shared a little about the “magic” calling us to the Walt Disney World Resort for their 50th Anniversary.
The Chamber handed out awards to members of the Chamber community throughout the night. The Ambassador of the Year Award went to Wanda Curtis, Director of the Sunshine Foundation Dream Village. Chamber Ambassadors dedicate many volunteer hours to Chamber functions and member contact, and Wanda has been truly dedicated to her role. Ambassador of the Year honors the Chamber Ambassador who has stood out among their peers throughout the year. On top of her time with the Ambassadors, Wanda is a Certified Non-Profit Professional and is passionate about her “day job” making dreams come true for children at the Sunshine Foundation.
Each year, the Eagle Award goes to the Chamber Area Council that has best exemplified the Chamber’s Mission, Vision, and Values throughout the year. Directors on the eight area council boards served a collective total of over 780 hours in 2021, and that does not even include their time spent planning and executing initiatives, programs, and events. Over the past two years, the eight area councils also awarded $21,000 in scholarships, collected school supplies for Osceola County schools, and presented 21 awards to businesses and business people in the county. It was extremely close, but this year’s recipient of the 2021 Eagle Award was the Small Business Council. 2021-2022 Chair of the SBC Kathy Frazier-Kenney and members of the SBC board were there to accept the award. You can follow the Small Business Council on Facebook to keep up with them throughout 2022 and beyond.
The Linda Goodwin-Nichols Service Award is named after Linda Goodwin-Nichols of Goodwin Realty & Associates, two-time Chairman of the Kissimmee Chamber Board of Directors, and a stalwart of Osceola’s Business Community for over 40 years. Throughout her career, Linda has epitomized community involvement and giving back selflessly, and this award honors an individual who will carry on her legacy. This year’s finalists for the Linda Goodwin-Nichols Service Award were Larry Walter with Walter Farms, Sue Ring with The Chamber Foundation, and Kathy Frazier-Kenney with Kenney Consulting. The award went to Larry Walter who was not present. After retiring from Hanson Walter & Associates, Larry became a full-time rancher and farmer, and our un-Florida-like weather on Saturday meant that Larry was need to play “arctic warrior” (his words) to protect his crops at home. In a pre-recorded video Larry said, “I could not be more humbled and honored than by receiving an award in [Linda’s] namesake. [She is] an outstanding individual.”
To recognize the importance of the Chamber’s core values of “Embracing Heritage,” “Creating Opportunity,” and “Building Unity,” and our partners who promote them, in January of 2018, Chairman Tim Finkenbinder announced the creation of an award to emphasize these values – particularly “Building Unity.” For the third year, the Chamber presented the Unity Award at the Annual Meeting. Finalists for this award were Martin Levert of Florida Technical College, Stella Siracuza of Tomato Express Market, and Jeremy Lanier with the Florida Department of Health in Osceola County. Presented with support from Kissimmee Utility Authority, the Unity Award went to Martin Levert, who graciously thanked the mentors that led the way for him to be a supporter of diverse groups in our community. Martin leads the Kissimmee Campus of FTC and sits on our Hispanic Business Council Board of Directors.
Finally, Chairman Crain closed out the night by introducing the Chamber’s 2022 Executive Committee and Area Council Chairmen and thanking the Chamber staff.
The Chamber’s Annual Meeting was sponsored by Walt Disney World Resort, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Osceola Regional Medical Center, Osceola Press – Printing & Signs, Orlando Health, Hanson Walter & Associates, and AdventHealth. View the gallery below for more scenes of this memorable night!