By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - Scott Van Duzer is seeing red and what he's doing about it has the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County seeing it, too.
Mr. Van Duzer and his nonprofit, the Van Duzer Foundation, has teamed with the Boys and Girls Club to raise awareness about the importance of giving blood.
Members of the foundation and four children from the Boys and Girls Club began a trek by bicycle from the Florida Blood Center office in Lake Park to Washington, D.C.,, to help raise awareness.
The group will ride approximately 50 miles a day, and they anticipate they will reach the nation's capital by July 11, when they are scheduled to meet with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.
On June 12, the group stopped in St. Lucie County at Big Apple Pizza next to Indian River State College. Riding with them on their leg through the county were members of the St. Lucie County Commission.
Other political officials were on hand at the restaurant, which Van Duzer owns, to offer their support of the event.
"I think this is wonderful," said Frannie Hutchinson, one of the commissioners. She was one of the accompanying bike riders for the day, and smiled and greeted people as they rode in.
"We've been getting a lot of horns beeping at us."
For the four students who attend the Boys and Girls club that are part of the ride - Cody Hatt and Maya Brown, ninth graders at Lincoln Park Academy; Brittany Fray, an eighth grader from Southport Middle School and Joseph Noble, a senior at Fort Pierce Westwood - it is turning out to be an exciting summer.
"This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Cody, "and it's for a great cause."
Brittany agreed with him.
"It's important for people to know it for such an important cause," she said.
The group all wore red T-shirts with the words "Be a Hero Bike Tour 2012" on the back. They will be following behind a large RV as they make their way north.
During their brief stop at Big Apple Pizza, Mr. Van Duzer was surprised with an award from the Small Business Administration.
In front of friends and officials, Vincent Lopresti, area manager for the south Florida district office of the SBA, presented Mr. Van Duzer with the recognition of being runner-up for Small Business Person of the Year for his business's philanthropic efforts.
"It's another great recognition of Scott and the community, and for everything he does here," Mr. Lopresti said.
He was nominated by Jan Pagano, director of the small business development center at Indian River State College.
Accepting the award, Mr. Van Duzer credited all the people who help him throughout the year.
"I can't do anything without my staff and business partners," he said. "Thank you for making this a possibility."