Plantation's Geronemus Honored for MADD Charity Work
For Heather Geronemus, it was again very satisfying to make an impact in the community and provide dedication and service to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization in South Florida.
Geronemus, a Plantation resident, was honored Dec. 13 for her charitable work at the BB&T Center in Sunrise in front of 15,097 people when the Florida Panthers hosted the Washington Capitals.
As the chairwoman for the Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash annual event in Fort Lauderdale, Geronemus has helped raise more than $200,000 toward the MADD organization in South Florida and has been at the center of the cause to make aware of the dangers of drunk driving. Geronemus lost her father in a drunken-driving accident in January 2009.
The Florida Panthers recognized Geronemus as a community hero for their "Heroes Among Us" program. During a stoppage of play during the second period, she was presented a Panthers jersey by Panthers President and CEO Michael Yormark as well as Ryan Case on a side stage of the 100 level in the arena. The Panthers presented a video presentation on the jumbotron to show her efforts in the community.
"The most important part of the evening to me was that an arena full of people heard about MADD during the holiday season, which is the most dangerous time for drinking and driving all year," Geronemus said.
The Panthers unveiled a new initiative called the 'Heroes Among Us' program beginning in the 2013-14 season. The program gives special recognition to individual heroes in the community. The Panthers select nominees based on individuals who go above and beyond to serve and inspire others, exhibit dedication and selflessness in the community, overcome major diversity or challenges, and individuals who made a special and significant impact on others, families and the community.
"It is an absolute privilege to be able to salute the community members who go to great lengths to making the communities in South Florida a better place to live," said Yormark, through the Florida Panthers website. "The entire Panthers organization is committed to supporting our local communities, and we are ecstatic this new program recognizes the individuals that do the same."
The Florida Panthers have selected 41 heroes and one member of the community will be recognized each game for the 2013-2014 season.
"It was tremendously overwhelming and I received a standing ovation," Geronemus said. "I was being praised for my work with MADD. I am not in it for the recognition, but it was great to have a chance to spread the message to thousands of people in the arena."
Geronemus was nominated in October by a colleague, who recommended her for the new Panthers program based on her charitable work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Geronemus also has raised money for Multiple Sclerosis through walks, runs and marathons in South Florida in previous years.
The Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash will take place May 4 at Huizenga Park in Fort Lauderdale at 7:30 a.m. with the proceeds going toward the MADD organization. To register, visit walklikemadd.org/fortlauderdale. The MADD organization will also hold a kickoff event March 5 in Fort Lauderdale leading up to the walk.
"This is something that I am so passionate about and the chance to turn a terrible tragedy for me and my family and try to make it more positive by hopefully raising awareness and making a difference is what it's all about," Geronemus said.