Apr 23, 2012

Bill Sullivan Wins Howard Palmer Award at Member Celebration

Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan announced at Monday’s FCSports Member Celebration that Bill Sullivan, owner of I.Wanna Distributors, has earned the not-for-profit’s highest service honor, the Howard Palmer Award. Hogan also announced L.J. Ruffin & Associates owner Larry Ruffin began his one-year term as chairman of the board while Bobby Kuykendall of Kuykendall Gardner Risk & Insurance Brokers was inducted as the organization’s 36th president.

Sullivan becomes the 23rd member to earn the award, presented during the annual Member Celebration held at the Orlando Science Center.  The Member Celebration signifies the beginning of the 2012-13 Florida Citrus Sports season with the induction of new leadership and member awards presentation to those who have dedicated time and effort to the organization.  The highest honor of the night went to Sullivan, a long-time Central Florida philanthropist and FCSports member since 1994.

“You very rarely have a chance in life to work with someone like Bill,” said Hogan. “No matter what he may be dealing with personally or professionally, helping others always comes first.  Receiving credit or recognition is so far from his mind that you may not even know Bill or know that he has been reaching out to help kids for decades.  I personally want to thank Bill for all he does in our community.”

The prestigious Howard Palmer Award is a tribute to the FCSports member who continually strives to make significant contributions to the organization and its efforts without regard for personal recognition.   Presented since the 1989-90 season, the annual award recognizes a “lifetime” of service to FCSports.  Past honorees include such Orlando notables as Bill Dymond, Harvey Massey and last year’s honoree, Rich Fildes.

Sullivan, owner of local ice cream and frozen treats company I.Wanna Distributors, has been involved in the cause of ending childhood hunger in Central Florida for over 22 years. For 20 of those years, he has provided FCSports with all of the donated food for the Day for Kids events – securing not only the donations, but also the preparation, cooking and delivery of meals that feed up to 1,200 people annually at these events. He also provides food for the annual FCSports Summer Camp for underprivileged children in Orange County. His work feeding children does not end at FCSports as he spearheads the “No Kid Hungry” campaign in Central Florida – an awareness program that has raised over $4.5 million nationally, while raising hundreds-of-thousands for needy youth in our community. He was named the Taste of the Nation Leader of the Year in 2011 for his efforts. Taste of the Nation is the country’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to ending childhood hunger.

Last year’s president Larry Ruffin will move to chairman, where he will continue to serve on the Executive Committee and also oversee the Team Selection Committee for the Capital One Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl. Ruffin is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama, where he was a standout starting left guard from 1973-75 under legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and member of three Southeastern Conference championship teams and the 1973 National Championship Crimson Tide squad. A 35-year veteran of the construction material supply industry, Ruffin opened Ruffin & Associates in 1993.

With Ruffin now installed as chairman, Bobby Kuykendall becomes president of Florida Citrus Sports. Born and raised in Orlando and a 1974 graduate of Florida Technical University (now UCF), Kuykendall is the Executive Vice President of Kuykendall Gardner Risk & Insurance Brokers and has been a member of FCSports for 33 years. His father, Jim, was one of the organization’s key members in the early ‘70s. Kuykendall is a long-time scout for the Orlando bowl games and has served in various capacities – from public address announcer of the Red Lobster Classic basketball tournament to dressing as Santa Claus for children at the organization’s annual holiday party. The Chairman of the Board for Young Life, Kuykendall has been an executive committee member since 2009 and has served multiple stints on FCSports’ associate board of directors.

In addition to the Howard Palmer Award, FCSports recognized other members who gave superlative efforts during the 2011-12 season.  Amy Pryor of the Orlando History Museum was named Rookie of the Year, Karen Connors of Engineering and Computer Simulations, Inc. was named Chairman of the Year for her work with the Military Affairs Committee, and Milton Carroll of Aegis Business Credit was named Volunteer of the Year.  

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