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Pavao wins Alf Bennie Award
By Pat Bailey

He's a man whose actions speak louder than his words.

In fact, he's a man of very few words.

And he held true to form on Wednesday night when his name was announced as the 2018 Alf Bennie Award winner at the 24th Annual Business Excellence Awards at the Portuguese Club, co-ordinated by the Leamington and District Chamber of Commerce.

John Pavao, accompanied by daughter Stephanie Clark, slowly made his way on stage to accept the Blackburn Radio sponsored award from Cordell Green. 

He limited his thanks to a few words but those words acknowledged he could never have hosted the rodeo year after year without his family and friends.

Pavao, along with his family, have been responsible for bringing the Sun Parlour Rodeo to the area for the past 17 years.

"John thought that it would be a great way to bring the community together and raise some money for the local hospital," said Green. "John and a few friends formed the Sun Parlour Rodeo Committee and began planning for the first Sun Parlour Rodeo in 2001."

Since its inaugural event, the group has raised about $400,000 for the Hospice of Windsor Essex County, W.E. Care for Kids and Erie Shores Healthcare.

"This group continues to work together year after year," said Green, "with the help of many volunteers to bring this great event to our community."

True to his reputation, Pavao had a single word to describe his reaction--"stunned", but added "humbled" as an afterthought.

In fact, his family admitted, they had to tell a little white lie to even get him to the awards' ceremony.

"He had no idea," said his daughter Stephanie, "we had to tell him Vanessa was getting an award."

Vanessa applauded her dad's efforts and attributed his actions simply to his "big heart".

"We're just blessed that he's our dad," she added.

Taking home this year's Sponsor's Choice Award was the United Way for its 'On Track to Success Program'.

Sponsor Libro Credit Union representatives lauded the program that targets neighbourhood-based poverty reduction while increasing high school graduation and post secondary enrollment amongst youth living in the community.

The career mentoring program offers hand-on and experiential learning experiences with local employers and provides vulnerable students with opportunities and skills they may not otherwise be exposed to , while removing financial barriers that would otherwise stand in their way.

Jeremiah Wiebe was on hand to commend the program and applaud its success.

There were several other businesses and individuals recognized for their tremendous success in 2018, with over 100 nominated in 14 categories.

Kiara Clement was honored as the winner in the Youth Excellence Award, sponsored by Scotiabank Leamington.

The 18-year-old Clement is a graduate of Cardinal Carter Secondary School and is currently attending St. Clair College.

Her accomplishments and involvement include; vice-president of student affairs at St. Clair College, Leamington Mayor's Youth Advisory Committee, SECC, United Way WE Student Committee, Me to We Group, The Bridge volunteer, CrimeStoppers, Vacation Bible School leader and involved with Motivate Youth Canada.

Recognized for their efforts that went above and beyond were:

Warm Welcome Award; The Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast

Excellence in Food Service; Bradt's Butcher Block

Customer First Award; Capogna Flowers

Positive Professional Award; Joe Oswald

Small Business Excellence Award; Security ONE Alarms

Welcoming Accessibility Award; ACCESS County Community Support Services

Young Entrepreneur Award; Dr. Maxwell Abraham of Abraham Orthodontics

Innovation Award; Lee and Maria's

Industrial/Manufacturing Excellence Award; South Essex Fabricating

Grow South Essex Award; Erie James Produce

Invest in a World Class Workforce Award; Collins Barrow Leamington LLP

The awards' ceremony, featuring a Willy Wonka theme, was hosted by Jay Marchillo and Kendal Malewicz from Blackburn Radio.



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