A crowd of 200 or more gave the Heart of Lehigh winner a standing ovation on Jan. 28 at the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce's 25th annual Gala Awards.
The winner of the 2017 award went to Lynn Beck, who has clocked more years of service than any other volunteer.
One thing she has done each year is maintain a scrapbook of news stories about the chamber. At the awards gala, she presents it to the board's outgoing chairman. This year, it was given to Michael Burgers.
The Heart of Lehigh Award recipient is Lynn Beck.
Several weeks ago, Beck announced that she was retiring at the end of the year.
Beck has volunteered under the directorship of eight executive directors of the chamber since 1988, when she became a volunteer.
The Heart of Lehigh is the top award presented by the chamber. While it is still a new award, it is not to be given out unless there is a special person that deserves the honor.
Theresa Goodlad, former chamber chairman, said Beck was loved by everyone and had a personality that made everyone smile.
"She is a woman filled with joy and she is a gracious woman,"?she said. "Lehigh is better off because of Lynn Beck."
The gala was held at Pelican Preserve, at 10571 Veneto Drive, Fort Myers.
Several awards were presented, including Teacher of the Year from all 13 schools in the Lehigh area, the Lee County Sheriff's Office Officer of the Year and more.
Clay Miller, with NBC-2, emceed the ceremony. He said he enjoys it each year and hopes to attend the gala again next year.
The chambers new officers and directors were sworn in by Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann.
The new executive committee is made up of: Lenore Maffetore, of Florida Community Bank, as chairwoman; Ed Moore, of Red Sneakers, as vice chairman; Rick Rohner, of Palm Acres Charter High School, as treasurer; and Katyna Hoover, of LA Insurance, as secretary.
They are joined by outgoing President Mike Burgers, of Clever Promotional Products.
Directors include Al DeLeon, Dr. Alaa El-Gendy, Fred Elliott, Isabel Arias-Squires, Mike Jacobs and Susan Kostyk.
Kostyk, the event chairman, said this year's gala was a sold-out affair.
The 13 teachers honored with plaques included: Catherine Best, of Harns Marsh Elementary; Kelsey Olsen, of G. Weaver Hipps Elementary; Sarah Von Williamsen, of Lehigh Elementary; Amy Evans, of Mirror Lakes Elementary; Michael Shattuck, of Sunshine Elementary; Carol Costigan, of Tortuga Preserve Elementary School; Nichole Tyler, of Harns Marsh Middle School; Debra Wright Prashad, of Lehigh Acres Middle; Anysia Weicht, of Varsity Lakes Middle; Rachelle Watkins, of Veterans Park Academy for the Arts; William Holohan, of East Lee County High School; Susan Souza, of Lehigh Senior High; and Keisha Jackson, of Palm Acres Charter High School.
The principals at each of the schools made the Teacher of the Year selections.
Other awards went to: LCSO Deputy Michael Truscott for Officer of the Year; Firefighter Nicholas Classetti for Firefighter of the Year; Sue Thompson for Volunteer of the Year; Doris Moore for Employee of the Year; and Keiser University was named Chamber Member of the Year.
Burgers presented the awards.
An hour of entertainment took place before the presentations. This year's featured entertainment was Doug Cameron and his sons, Alex, 10, and Sean, 8, of Fort Myers.
They kept the crowd well entertained and the two boys played the violin along with their father.
A silent auction was also held.