Aldo Nunez receives first 'community champion' award
By Tammy Roberts
While he thought it was just another day, Aldo Nunez was taken aback when more than 25 of his friends, family and other members of the community paid him a surprise visit at work April 29.
Among these visitors were Larry Lawton, executive director of the Reality Check Foundation, 18th Judicial Brevard County Judge David Silverman and Betsy Farmer, creator of Promise in Brevard.
Based on a nomination by Ms. Farmer, Mr. Lawton selected Mr. Nunez, a fire-medic with Brevard County Fire Rescue, to receive the Reality Check Foundation's first-ever "Community Champion" award.
"This award is designed specifically for individuals aged 20-45, who donate their time, outside their profession," said Mr. Lawton, a Palm Bay resident. "Our goal is to instill more young people to help others and give back to their community."
Mr. Nunez, 29, of Melbourne Beach has been an avid volunteer throughout the community for several years, participating in events that benefit local charities, primarily the Zachary Project, a nonprofit organization that supports firefighters' children who are born with birth defects.
Most recently, he was one of several firefighters from the 2010 Florida's Hottest Firefighters calendar to spend a Friday evening vending drinks in the stands at a Washington Nationals game at Space Coast Stadium.
Proceeds from the event were donated to the creation of "Promise in Brevard," which is an all-inclusive housing opportunity for individuals with special needs.
"With Aldo's help and the help of the other firefighters, we were able to raise more than $700 for Promise," Ms. Farmer said. "We're extremely appreciative of these guys coming out and volunteering their time."
In addition to being recognized as a "Community Champion," Mr. Nunez was given $150 in cash, courtesy of the Reality Check Foundation, as well as $50 gift cards to Wal-Mart, Matt's Casbah in Downtown Melbourne and City Limits Lounge in Melbourne.
Judge Silverman, who presented the award to Mr. Nunez, said he was pleased to be a part of the event.
"It's important to have an award like this because as a firefighter and a volunteer, you mean a lot to others," he said. "This is some small token of that appreciation in a tangible way."
Mr. Nunez said he was extremely honored to receive the award and mentioned that the gift cards and money would be put to good use in the future, as he and his wife, Reaah, are expecting their first child in July.
"I think it's really cool; I'm very happy about it," Mr. Nunez said. "When you do this kind of thing, you don't really think you're going to get recognized for it, so this is pretty awesome."
Mr. Lawton, whose Reality Check Program has prevented thousands of youth and adults from making poor life decisions, said he hopes this award will continue to inspire others in the future.
He encourages the community to nominate individuals, who volunteer their time outside of their everyday profession.
"These people deserve to be recognized," he said.
To nominate an individual, or for information about Reality Check, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Linda at (321) 327-2921.
For information about Promise in Brevard, visit www.promiseinbrevard.org.