MELBOURNE, Fla. — Healthcare is one of the leading industries in Brevard County and many of these unsung heroes go without recognition of the dedication and compassion they bring to their patients on a daily basis. Brevard Heart Foundation is changing that as it will be honoring and celebrating 15 awardees from the Space Coast at its 2nd Annual Heart of a Hero Awards Gala on March 24th, 2023 at the Hilton Melbourne at Rialto Place.

While other healthcare events will typically recognize healthcare leadership and administrators, Brevard Heart Foundation wanted to hear the stories of those who were ‘hands-on’ and instrumental in impacting the lives of patients. Therefore, nominations for the Heart of a Hero Awards were open to the public and people were invited to share the stories of how local healthcare professionals made a difference in their lives or the lives of friends, family, or community members. Nomination stories were shared with a selection committee to make the award decisions before Foundation board members traveled around the county with heart balloons to surprise the awardees, in person when possible, with the news that they had been selected and would be honored at the upcoming gala.

This year’s Heart of a Hero awardees are: Linda Battle (Island Health and Rehab), Theresa Carney (Health First), Marcilla Dupree (St Francis Reflections Lifestage Care), Fanny Estinvil (Cleveland Clinic), Joy Hackett (Health First), Joe Helme (Melbourne Terrace Rehabilitation /Lake Nona Medical Center), Adalberto Henriquez (Space Coast Volunteers in Medicine), Lillian Holder (Health First), Paul Kolarik (VITAS Healthcare) Sol Madlambayan (VITAS Healthcare), Londa Maitland (St.Francis Reflections Lifestage Care), Felicia Prince (Competent Operational Testing Group), Mohan Shah (VITAS Healthcare), Sarah Shaw (Brevard County Jail), and Kimberly Sloman (Florida Institute for Technology/Scott Center for Autism).

The Space Coast community has already begun rallying around these healthcare professionals and the mission of Brevard Heart Foundation, which supports local healthcare initiatives and invests in the future of quality healthcare through its annual scholarship program for Brevard students seeking healthcare degrees and certifications. Sima Rama, director of Mandala Foundation, the event’s Title Sponsor, understands the importance of supporting healthcare and the people serving our community, stating “During the recent COVID pandemic, so many of our healthcare professionals went above and beyond the call of duty to save lives. During times that were hard, emotionally trying and full of unexpected challenges, our healthcare professionals stepped up and conquered unforeseen tasks that positively impacted every member of our community. Mandala Foundation would like to honor and support these heroes in Brevard, as it fulfills its mission of supporting human needs all over the world. We are honored to be able to give back to those who have given so much to all of us.” Other sponsors, including Health First, VITAS Healthcare, Care Advantage, Artemis IT, and Rock Paper Simple, have supported the gala since its inception because of the positive and uplifting impact it has on the local healthcare community, especially during these difficult times.

The awardees will be recognized at the gala on the evening of March 24, 2023 at the Hilton Melbourne at Rialto Place. Tickets are $75 and the public is invited to attend to support these amazing healthcare professionals who make a difference on the Space Coast. Businesses and individuals are also invited to become event sponsors and receive additional benefits. Tickets and additional gala information, as well as information about the work and mission of Brevard Heart Foundation, can be found at their website