Former Christian Camp Executive Director Named Lake Wales Citizen of the Year
by James Coulter
For more than 50 years, Bill Redmon has dedicated his life to serving others in the Lake Wales Community, from assisting with fundraisers and working as a camp director, to creating a vision for a water park accessible to people with disabilities.
His life of “passion and compassion” was rewarded last Friday evening when he received the honor of being named the Citizen of the Year at the 5th Annual Lake Wales Chamber Annual Gala.
Redmon served as the Executive Director at Lake Aurora Christian Camp for 34 years, during which time he helped expand the camp’s facility from 25 to 75 acres. He had also been involved with many local civil and civic organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, Depot Museum, Lake Wales Rotary, and Circle of Friends.
He started many fundraisers for local organizations and causes, including the Lake Wales Soccer Club, Rotary Club, and Interact. One of his most popular fundraisers is the Big Kahuna Paddle Challenge to help fund local boys and girls camps.
Redmon serves as the President of Removing the Barriers Initiative, a local non-profit with the mission of “helping to remove the barriers to great experiences for people with disabilities.” Their major project is Stirring Waters, a proposed water park to be built in east Lake Wales with the goal of being inclusive of people with disabilities.
Larry Bossarte, who was last year’s Citizen of the Year recipient, boasted about how everyone in attendance would know who this year’s winner would be from his accomplishments alone. Bossarte described Redmon as a “truly amazing person” with “passion and compassion” who “tackles extraordinary challenges.”
Even with everything that he has accomplished in the past half century, Redmon himself was “shocked” to have received his honorary title that evening. He owed his success to his wonderful community and to the grace of God.
“God gifted me with ideas…[and] as long as God keeps me living, those visions keep coming,” he said.
The Greater Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council hosted its Fifth Annual Awards Gala last Friday at Lake Ashton Country Club. This year’s event had a Western theme, with judging for best cowboy, cowgirl, and western-themed outfit.
Several awards were presented that evening to citizens and organizations that exemplified the spirit of the local community. The Carl F. Durso Award for Excellence in Business was conferred to both AdventHealth Lake Wales & All Veterans Center, Inc.
AdventHealth Lake Wales was recognized for its valiant efforts in the past year during the ongoing pandemic, and the All-Veterans Center was recognized for assisting local veterans.
Since its start in 2017, the organization has assisted 33 homeless veterans and prevented seven suicides, its representative said.
Jerry Miller Community Leadership Award was awarded to Tony Mathewson of the Lake Wales Soccer Club. The Community Service Organization of the Year Award was awarded to the Lake Wales Soccer Club. And the Public Servant of the Year Award was given to Zaliet Suri, Assistant to the City Manager, Deputy City Clerk, and Cemetery Division Coordinator.
Mayor Eugene Fultz accepted the award on behalf of Suri, who was unable to make it that evening due to a family situation. He spoke highly of her ability to manage the city office, especially during the absence of the city manager, and her ability to maintain decorum while attending to family members of recently deceased while assisting them with locating plots in the city cemetery.
“When they come in [to the cemetery division] to do business, she comforts them during the purchase,” Mayor Fultz said. “She does not treat it like a business, she treats it like a family member addressing another family member.”