With the words, “And now for the rest of the story,” the late radio commentator, Paul Harvey, would lead his listeners into fascinating tales of people, places and things. Between 1950 and 1990 his weekly news broadcasts reached an estimated 24 million people worldwide.
The first part of the “rest of the story” as it relates here reached readers of this column only, but it deserves continuation. It has to do with the recent awards ceremony held in Freedom Plaza Auditorium, when 30 Freedom Plaza employees were presented $2,000 educational grants. That initial part of the story described the process by which the scholarship recipients were selected and the work done by the Freedom Plaza Scholarship Board in carrying out that responsibility.
But there’s more to the story. An important amenity offered residents of Freedom Plaza is that a certified Emergency Medical Technician is on duty in the building 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over the 22 years of its operation Freedom Plaza has seen any number of these first-responders come, work for awhile, and then move on to other duties.
The very first EMT, hired when Freedom Plaza was opened and filled to capacity, was a personable young man who forever seemed to have a textbook on his desk, reading and making notes when not occupied with a resident. He was always willing to engage in conversation, especially about medical or health-related issues, and for good reason – he was a pre-med student at University of South Florida. Working and attending classes set a difficult course, but he was dedicated and, above all, persistent.
He so impressed Freedom Plaza residents that they awarded him, in 1994, the very first Freedom Plaza Scholarship. It was for only $1,000 but it made a dent in his college tuition cost. The following year, he was still working at Freedom Plaza, had maintained excellent grades and was thus awarded another grant.
This young man graduated from USF and then Temple University in Philadelphia, where he received his medical degree with a specialty in podiatry. He now practices in Sun City Center.
Dr. Sean Shanahan, the first EMT of Freedom Plaza and first Freedom Plaza scholarship awardee, was honored to be the primary speaker and presenter at this year’s awards ceremony. The thrust of his message to recipients was that hard work and persistence are the necessary ingredients for reaching any goal and that those qualities pay off in success.
Peggy Burgess is an associate of Freedom Plaza and a columnist for The Sun.