Every Champions for Children Awards Ceremony is a special chance for child and family advocates across Miami-Dade County to come together to celebrate exceptional work of committed individuals and programs. But the 17th Annual ceremony celebrated on April 27 had an even more emotional spirit than usual.
It may have been the record-breaking nearly 1,200 attendees that showed up at the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami International Airport & Convention Center to celebrate, or maybe it was the new award categories, or the passionate performance given by a youth who has been part of the organization’s 20th anniversary celebration. Maybe it was all the above and more, but what was undeniable was that those present will not likely forget the event and those honored.
This year’s list of honorees and their accomplishments were memorialized in video presentations and also brought out the emotions of the audience during heartfelt acceptance speeches. For the first time in its history, The Trust honored a high school-aged student when it debuted its Excellence in Youth Leadership Award given to Lauren Page. The 11th grade student at Ransom Everglades founded the Page by Page Book Drive Program when she was in second grade and has already helped distribute more than half a million books across the world. Page’s ongoing dedication and passion to spread literacy to those youth across the globe who might not have the opportunity to experience the wonder of books was inspirational.
While Page’s story is just getting started, Regina Davis, the longtime community advocate and champion for children in her community, was honored with the Excellence in Advocacy Award as a result of her life-long dedication to children. Despite a life filled with challenges and obstacles, Davis has been steadfast in her support for children and youth in the community. She intervenes in gang wars, promotes safety, health, and education and organizes health and family resource fairs in her neighborhood. Davis’s rousing acceptance speech filled the ballroom with equal parts excitement and humility and her energy brought the audience to its feet.
The Excellence in Direct Service Award was given to Abigail Peskin, a psychologist at the University of Miami Parent-Child Interaction Therapy program, who specializes in helping families with disruptive behaviors or children at risk of child maltreatment. Peskin created two nonprofit organizations in Miami-Dade County that provide free food and toy rentals to underserved populations.
The event’s signature award, the David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children, went to Evelio Torres, president and executive director of the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. His career has been devoted to improving the lives of children in the foster care system and promoting high-quality early education. Mr. Torres has gone above and beyond in his efforts, often finding innovative solutions to ensure that children remain with their siblings or are placed in permanent homes. Additionally, he has been a staunch advocate for children's rights, leveraging his over 20 years of experience in state government to work with legislators and promote innovative solutions that enhance the lives of children and families.
As well as honoring those individuals who have stood above the rest with regard to their service to children and families, the Champions for Children Award also singles out the programs who have excelled over the last year. This year, Breakthrough Miami’s Summer Institute, Early Learning Coalition’s Thrive by 5 Child Care Scholarship Initiative and Jessie Trice Community Health System School Health Services were honored as Programs of the Year.
The Trust takes great pride in recognizing the outstanding individuals and organizations who go above and beyond in their service to bring happiness, hope, and essential services to children and families in Miami-Dade. The annual Champions for Children Awards Ceremony is a significant occasion dedicated to celebrating these exceptional efforts.
The event was made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor TD Bank; Gold Sponsors City National Bank, FIU Center for Children and Families, Miami Herald/ El Nuevo Herald, University of Miami, and WOW Marketing; Silver Sponsors ACentral, Amazon, CHI Community Health of South Florida, Commissioner Raquel Regalado, GreenbergTraurig, Office of Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, Webauthor, and Wels; and many others.
Click Here for images from this year’s event.
Click Here to watch honoree videos.