Winter Olympic legend Bonnie Blair will be a part of the festivities this year as the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South announces scholarship recipients and other award winners at its 32nd annual Scholar-Athlete Awards banquet. The ceremony will run from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16 at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers at Bell Tower Shops hotel. The scholarship program recognizes top athletes from area high schools based on athletic and academic achievement, along with strength of character.
Blair, a six-time Olympic medalist speed skater, will deliver the keynote address. She set a world record in the 500 meters as she won her first Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics. She went on to win gold in both the 500- and 1,000-meter speed skating events at the 1992 Olympics, and she repeated this feat at the 1994 Games.
Also in 1994, Blair became the first American woman to win five gold medals and the first American to win gold in the same event in three consecutive Games (1988, 1992 and 1994). She is the most decorated woman in Winter Olympic history.
Eighteen Lee County-area high schools each nominated one top male and one top female varsity letter winner who maintain a minimum 3.2 GPA, are involved in school and community activities and demonstrate leadership characteristics. A selection committee of Rotary South members interviews nominees and selects the winners.
The 36 nominees are Joseph Mera and Alyssa Collins from Bishop Verot Catholic High School, Mitchell Hueniken and Kelly O’Connor from Canterbury School, Bryan Markovich and Nicole Jimenez from Cape Coral High School, Cole Mattheiss and Daydra Smith from Cypress Lake High School, Ralph Claude and Guerdine Michel from Dunbar High School, Ian Arriaza and Jeilah Pabon from East Lee County High School, Carson King and Alayna Goll from Estero High School, Daniel Ibarra and Amber Dudek from Evangelical Christian School, Voldrick Dorelien and Destanni Henderson from Fort Myers High School, Benoit Jean and Mckenzie Fultz from Gateway Charter High School, Jesse Blow and Paxton Guerin from Ida S. Baker High School, Josh Sutton and Riley Hare from Island Coast High School, Jovany Veliz and Cassidy Delva from Lehigh Senior High School, Christian Butz and Acelya Aydogmus from Mariner High School, Joe Wilkins Jr. and Erin Post from North Fort Myers High School, Jacob Stanbro and Sara Perkins from Riverdale High School, Antonio Orama and Sophia Gonzalez from South Fort Myers High School, and Caleb Catto and Kortney Curtis from Southwest Florida Christian Academy.