By Amanda Hatfield
BREVARD -- Brevard celebrities and community leaders will be honored for their contributions to the Space Coast community.
On Saturday, March 9, Eckerd, formerly known as Eckerd Youth Alternatives, will host the 2013 Brevard Walk of Fame at the Holiday Inn Space Coast Convention Center in Cocoa.
With the hopes of creating better alternatives for helping at-risk children and families, Ruth and Jack Eckerd founded the organization in 1968.
Since its establishment, Eckerd has served more than 150,000 children throughout the United States by providing life-changing behavioral health, welfare programs and services.
In 1997, Eckerd set up shop in Brevard County.
"Some of our services include 'Eckerd Family Visitation Services,' 'Hi-Five,' a school-based violence and substance abuse prevention program, and 'Computers 4 Kidz,'" Brevard Walk of Fame event chairwoman Amber Rogers said.
The programs are a "collaborative effort among Brevard County Schools' Title One Program, local social service agencies and educational institutions of higher learning," Mrs. Rogers said.
Recognizing a need to honor those who give not only financial support, but their time, as well, Eckerd Brevard County established the Brevard Walk of Fame.
"There are many individuals, both celebrities and community leaders, who have made outstanding contributions to our community, who inspire tomorrow's generations," Mrs. Rogers said. "By honoring these leaders, Eckerd raises awareness of the positive impact their efforts have made in the lives of others."
Recognizing only the most prominent and influential business and community leaders and celebrities of Brevard, Walk of Fame honorees are presented with a personalized Brevard Walk of Fame star.
"A list of more than 100 individuals is compiled by the Eckerd Community Advisory Council and narrowed down through a rigorous voting process, based on community contributions and celebrity status," Mrs. Rogers said. "Being selected as a prestigious honoree is a testament to their leadership in their profession and their profound impact on the community as a whole."
The exceptional 11 who will be honored at this year's Brevard Walk of Fame are:
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
Community Credit Union president David Brock
Space Florida president and CEO, Frank DiBello
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell
LEAD Brevard president and CEO Kristin Bakke
Former BCC president, Maxwell King
Bright House Networks vice president of operations and general manager, Paul Hanson
Genesis VII president and CEO Robert Jordan
Canaveral Port Authority CEO Stan Payne
Wasdin Associates vice president and owner, Susie Wasdin
Former NFL player and Pro Bowl fullback, Leonard Weaver
Created by the Eckerd Brevard Community Advisory Council, Brevard Walk of Fame will give honorees the full red carpet experience, complete with paparazzi vying for the best photos.
"The event begins with a celebrity VIP reception, where guests can mingle with some of the most prominent leaders and celebrities in Central Florida," Mrs. Rogers said. "Honorees and guests will walk the red carpet before enjoying an excitement filled evening of Oscar-style entertainment."
Dinner for the event will be provided by Carrabba's Italian Grill. Guests can also enjoy silent and live auctions, giving away exciting trips and celebrity memorabilia.
"In addition, Eckerd will also have opportunities to win a brand new Honda Sabre motorcycle, autographed by NASCAR legend Geoff Bodine and a new custom-built Albury Brothers 20 Boat," Mrs. Rogers said.
Each year, Eckerd gives out the Children's Hero of the Year Awards to individuals, businesses, and organizations alike.
"Nominations are submitted by community members and finalists are chosen by a panel of executive community board members, who individually make their selections based purely on the information provided with the nominations," Mrs. Rogers said.
From there, the 2013 Children's Hero of the Year recipients will be decided by a panel of finalists from the previous year.
"In all of Brevard County, there are only three finalists in each category, for a total of nine nominees," Mrs. Rogers added. "Of those finalists, three will be selected as honorees of this prestigious award."
The three categories for the Children's Hero of the Year Awards are "Time," "Talent," and "Treasure." Each category recognizes "Heroes," who have given their time, special talents, and made financial contributions.
Like many events of its kind, Brevard Walk of Fame will raise funds to support efforts that help at-risk youth.
"This year's event will raise needed funds to continue to provide critical child abuse services and substance abuse prevention programs in our community," Mrs. Rogers said.
Funds will also support the creation of Eckerd's "Raising Hope" Resource Center, which will provide critical resources and basic needs for struggling children and families in Brevard.
The 2013 Annual Brevard Walk of Fame is open to the public. Tickets are $100. Corporate tables and exclusive sponsorship opportunities are still available. For ticket and table sponsorship opportunities, visit www.brevardwalkoffame.com.
Eckerd provides many services for Brevard children and families. To see what programs and services Eckerd offers, visit www.Eckerd.org.