ORLANDO, FL.—November 13, 2013—At a press conference sponsored by Florida Blue today, the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida, Inc. (HBIF) and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando announced the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and the 15 finalists for the 16th Annual Don Quijote Awards.
The award winners will be announced at the Don Quijote Awards Gala on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 at the Epcot World Showplace Pavilion. Each year, the Don Quijote Awards recognize business excellence, dedication to serve and outstanding professionalism among Central Florida’s Hispanic community.
“This year’s finalists and Lifetime Achievement winners are trailblazers in their respective industries and in our region,” said HBIF President & CEO Augusto Sanabria. “This group superbly illustrates the scope and economic impact of Hispanics in Central Florida, and each embodies the spirit of Don Quijote de la Mancha in their own way.”
“This event, which has become an annual tradition in our community, is a great celebration for the Hispanic community of Central Florida. We cherish the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of outstanding business and civic leaders, whose contributions to our community and demonstrated success serve as inspiration to many in our region. We are honored to be part of such an amazing community filled with such amazing people,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando President Diana Bolivar.
Rafael and Luisa Medina will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for their impact on the Hispanic community in Central Florida. The couple opened one of the area’s first bodegas in 1970. The bodega and adjoining restaurant quickly became a hub for the community, offering a taste of home to Hispanics living in the region.
In the 1980s, the Medinas held the first annual “Fiesta Medina” to celebrate the roots and presence of the growing Hispanic population. This event grew to be the longest-running celebration of Latino culture, food and music in Central Florida, eventually drawing more than 30,000 participants. This year, after 43 years in business, the couple retired and closed Medina’s Grocery.
In addition to the Lifetime Achievement winner, three finalists were named in each of five categories. The 16th Annual Don Quijote Awards finalists are:
Hispanic Business of the Year, Five Years or Less
BlackRain Partners, LLC
Echo Interaction Group
Hispanic Business of the Year, More Than Five Years
Advanced IT Concepts, Inc.
Professional of the Year
Elisha Gonzalez Bonnewitz
Leticia M. Diaz
Hispanic Community Champion
Dr. Kathleen Plinske
Diego “Woody” Rodriguez
Lieutenant Colonel Wilson Ariza
The Don Quijote Awards are made possible thanks to the support of the Central Florida business community. The event sponsors include Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Florida Blue, Century Link, Darden, Florida Hospital, Orlando Magic, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank, Orlando Health, Chase, State Farm, and jetBlue, among others.
For more information on the Don Quijote Awards, please visit www.donquijoteawards.com.
About the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide leadership and support the economic development of the Hispanic business community of Metro Orlando. For more information about the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.HispanicChamber.net or call 407-428-5870.
About the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida, Inc.
The Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida (HBIF) is the leading Hispanic economic development nonprofit organization specializing in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their business in the State of Florida. For more than 20 years, HBIF has promoted the Hispanic entrepreneur, provided programs and created community partnerships to advance the economic development of the Hispanic business community and foster job creation. For more information, visit http://www.hbifflorida.org or call 407-428-5872.