The day after Memorial Day proved to be a fitting time to honor some of the area’s unsung heroes.
“Yesterday, we took a few moments to honor the brave men and women who served our country,” said Rolfe Arnhym, chairman of the award committee for the Rotary Club of Tampa. “Today is in a little different vein as we honor those who have served in our community.”
Frank Morsani received the Service Above Self award, while Tampa Police Department officer Ricky Wade, along with Steve and Emily Kundrat, received the first Unsung Heroes awards.
“We hadn’t given out the Service Above Self Award for a few years, so when I became chair about five years ago, we brought it back,” Arnhym said. “This is the first time we added the Unsung Heroes awards.”
The club, along with The Tampa Tribune, presented the prizes Tuesday during the rotary’s weekly meeting at the Glazer Children’s Museum.
“Our mission as human beings is not just to give, but to give back,” said an emotional Morsani during his acceptance speech. The Service Above Self award reflects the rotary club’s motto and is a fitting description for Morsani’s contributions, which include donating about $40 million to the University of South Florida.
“This was never in the script,” Morsani said after describing his humble beginnings in Oklahoma. “It’s been a great ride.”
Wade has put in nearly 20 years worth of work with the police department and the Police Athletic League, the non-profit group dedicated to providing affordable summer, after-school and athletic opportunities for youth in Tampa Bay.
The award was a surprise.
“I came today because my chief told me I needed to be here,” Wade said. “I feel honored, but I don’t do it for awards; I do it for the kids.”
The Kundrats were similarly ambivalent about accepting a prize for their work. A Kid’s Place in Brandon is a state-of-the-art, 60-bed facility for abused, neglected or abandoned children. The Valrico couple stuff their vehicle full of food and other necessary supplies and deliver them to A Kid’s Place.
“We actually found out about this [award] on April Fools Day, so we thought it was a joke,” Emily said. “We’re very humbled because we don’t do this for the recognition.”