MIAMI BEACH, FL – The National Salute to America’s Heroes (NSAH), presented by Hyundai, one of the country’s largest military air and sea shows, today announced the “Salute 365” initiative winners. Four healthcare, first responder, and unsung community heroes were each the recipient of an all-new 2020 Hyundai Sonata. The community-based nomination initiative was created to recognize and thank local healthcare professionals, first responders and others who are risking their own safety to care for members of the community.
NSAH also presented three scholarships to the Folds of Honor Higher Education Scholarship program.
“There is no better time than Memorial Day weekend to pay tribute to our Military, first responders, and those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our freedom,” said Mickey Markoff, executive producer of National Salute to America’s Heroes. “We are honored to award the winners of the four Hyundai Sonatas and honor those who are heroically serving on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as presenting scholarships to the families of veterans and fallen soldiers.”
“We are honored to recognize those battling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and thank them for their dedicated service,” said Angela Zepeda, chief marketing officer, Hyundai Motor America. “While we couldn’t hold the Air & Sea Show this year, we wanted to maintain our commitment to the NSAH and everything it does to support our true heroes. We hope our bold, all-new 2020 Sonata helps make things better for the four well-deserving recipients.”
The following are the chosen Salute 365 initiative winners out of approximately 1,859 nominations:
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Healthcare Hero Winner: Nurse Berkens Jean-Baptise, 36, is an intensive care nurse in the cardiovascular unit at the Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. He is selflessly serving his patients and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and volunteered to work in the hospital’s COVID-19 ward. Berkens always made sure his co-workers had appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to do their job safely. Each night on his way home he made time to bring food to a homeless citizen to make sure he always had a meal to eat. He has been inspired to go to medical school and is part of the incoming class this Fall to become a doctor. When National Salute to America’s Heroes learned that Berkens was having car trouble and would commute to work on his bicycle, they could not think of a more deserving nurse, and aspiring future physician.
Community Hero Winner: Lauren Ashley Green, 34, is a marketing assistant for a mortgage lender in Miami. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Lauren Ashley shops for countless friends and family who are unable to go to stores themselves. Word spread fast and she began shopping for nurses and doctors who were working long hours and could not secure items such as Lysol, disinfectant cleaners and other essential items. As the need grew, she organized a fundraiser to help distribute meals to hospitals such as West Kendall Baptist and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Most recently, she helped a family put together a quarantine appropriate birthday for a child with an inoperable brain tumor.
First Responder Hero Winner: Aubrey Talton, 21, volunteered in New York to offer support to the local first responders as a part of the FEMA task force. Aubrey worked grueling 12 hour shifts every day and always had a positive attitude and a sense of honor to not only support his fellow first responders but all of those affected by COVID-19. Serving others has always been important to Aubrey, starting at an early age. He began serving in his local church in West Palm Beach, which included feeding the homeless, visiting nursing homes and volunteering. Upon graduating high school Aubrey began training to become an EMT and then a firefighter.
Healthcare Hero Winner: Dr. Makendall Saint Eloi, 30, is a young leader in the medical field working diligently on the frontline of the current pandemic. Since the spread of COVID-19 he has been an advocate for appropriate testing and evaluated patients daily who received a positive diagnosis. Dr. Saint Eloi organized several free medical checkups for underserved communities in South Florida. He was and remains tireless in providing community initiatives both at Jackson Health System and in his home country of Haiti. The Miami-based doctor served as chief resident of his medical class at University of Miami, graduating with honors and later joined the staff at Jackson Memorial Hospital working in the ER and Urgent Care locations.
NSAH also presented three Folds of Honor Higher Education Scholarships. NSAH committed a donation of $15,000, which was divided and provided in the form of $5,000 scholarships to three South Florida students from families of veterans. The recipients are:
- Aileen Carrasquillo Rios: her father is a retired, and disabled Army Chief Warrant Officer veteran.
- Eric Witherspoon: his father is a retired, and disabled U.S. Air Force Major who served our country for over 20 years.
- Keith Happel: his father is a retired, disabled veteran who was in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
About the National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai: The National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai is a nationwide two-day celebration held on Miami Beach, Florida featuring the Hyundai Air & Sea Show, Music Explosion presented by Hyundai, and Salute 365 initiative. Held Memorial Day Weekend, the National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai focuses on honoring and paying tribute to the military and first responders who protect the freedoms of all Americans. Keep up with The National Salute to America’s Heroes presented by Hyundai Social media updates — hashtags for posts: #Salute365 #USASalute #HyundaiSalute For more information, please visit, www.USAsalute.com.
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