The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) and Prospera co- hosted, for the twenty-first consecutive year, the annual Don Quijote Awards gala. The event, whose top sponsors are Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Wells Fargo, took place on Dec. 8 at Epcot’s World Showplace Pavilion. The gala has become the premier event for the region’s Hispanic business community, where businesses and individuals are recognized for their vision, courage and impact on Central Florida—qualities exemplified by the classic literary character of Don Quijote.
A selection committee chose the winners among community nominees, based on professional accomplishments, financial success and growth, innovation, contributions to their industry and community, demonstrated leadership, and professional honors and recognition. The recipients of the 21st Don Quijote Awards are:
· Lifetime Achievement: Janet Perez Eckles
· Hispanic Business of the Year, Five Years or Less: Nebbia Technology, owned by Esteban Garcia
· Hispanic Business of the Year, More than Five Years: Orlando Montessori Bilingual Academy, owned by Lucelis Torres
· Professional of the Year: Vicki Jaramillo, Orlando International Airport
· Excellence: Yamile Luna, Florida Hospital
· Hispanic Community Champion: Nancy Gidusko
“For more than two decades, Central Florida has embraced the opportunity to highlight the achievements and contributions of Hispanic professionals and entrepreneurs, consistently growing the event alongside the region’s Hispanic population,” said the 21st Don Quijote Awards Chair Christina Pinto, partner at MPC Wealth Management. “It’s been a privilege to serve as this year’s event Chair and help raise funds to support the business development and community outreach programs conducted by the Hispanic Chamber and Prospera.”
The theme for this year’s gala paid homage to the African influence in the Latin culture, from the Caribbean territories to Central and South America. Attendees entered the opening cocktail on the red carpet and enjoyed musical presentations by Grupo de Baile de Bomba Cukiara and Plenamar Latino, presented by X7 Entertainment. Another main performance was Patty Padilla, the Colombian singer who interpreted Celia Cruz’ voice in Telemundo’s series “Celia.”
“We are proud to recognize the contributions of these honorees who have made such a profound impact in our community. The Don Quijote Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate these leaders surrounded by the community they serve,” said Gaby Ortigoni, president of HCCMO.
“We are thrilled to once again host this important event alongside the Hispanic Chamber to celebrate the contributions of local Hispanic business owners and professionals. We are proud to present the 2018 Hispanic Community Champion award posthumously to Nancy Gidusko, whom we hold in very high esteem as a past Board of Directors member and ambassador of our mission for many years,” said Prospera President & CEO Augusto Sanabria.
The Don Quijote Awards are made possible thanks to the support of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Wells Fargo, Florida Blue, Florida Hospital, Universal Orlando, AARP, Bank of America, Orlando Health, Orlando Magic, JPMorgan Chase, Nemours, Tupperware Brands, Media Source Imagery, Univision Orlando, and 98.1 Salsa y Mas, among others. For more information on the Don Quijote Awards, please visit www.donquijoteawards.com.