Blake Blahut Receives Award

compiled by Lauren Salinero

Bay Vista Estates

111716iyn01Blake Blahut of Bay Vista Estates receives a Twenty Under 40 Rising Stars award from Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

Orlando Regional Realtor Association representatives named Bay Vista Estates resident Blake Blahut of Regal Real Estate Professionals/Christie’s International Real Estate one of the Twenty Under 40 Rising Stars in real estate. The award recognizes top local Realtors under age 40 who demonstrate excellence in their careers and service to their community and the real estate industry.


111716iyn02Ocoee resident J. StevenSteveMcDonald earns a listing in The Best Lawyers in America as for commercial litigation.

J. StevenSteveMcDonald of Ocoee was peer-selected for inclusion in the commercial litigation category of The Best Lawyers in America, as published in dozens of city and regional publications, including U.S. News & World Report. Steve practices commercial litigation, appellate practice, civil trial practice and complex business litigation as a partner at ShuffieldLowman. He handles a broad spectrum of litigation cases, typically representing business entities or individuals involved in everything from shareholder and contract disputes to employment issues.


Isabela Araujo of Windermere served as a general volunteer at Hofstra University during the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Along with a monthlong series of panel discussions, lectures and performances about important election issues, Isabela received a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience that inspired many students to engage in the democratic process and embrace their responsibility as citizens and voters.

111716iyn04“Local celebrities,” including Windermere resident Angie Sola, participate in Dance, Dream & Inspire, Community Based Care of Central Florida’s annual ballroom dance and fundraiser.

Windermere resident Angie Sola, corporate citizenship manager for Walt Disney World Resort, performed as one of six “local celebrity” dancers at Dance, Dream & Inspire, Community Based Care of Central Florida’s annual ballroom dance and fundraising competition. The event raised more than $160,000, and an additional donation of nearly $34,000 — representing proceeds from coins collected from Walt Disney World Resort fountains, moats and wishing wells — was also announced. The funds support a wide variety of child welfare programs managed by CBCCF.

Winter Garden

111716iyn05Winter Garden resident Scott Cookson earns a listing in The Best Lawyers of America for real estate law.

Scott Cookson of Winter Garden was peer-selected for inclusion in the real estate law category in The Best Lawyers of America. He practices real estate, association, and land use and government law as a partner at ShuffieldLowman. Scott represents commercial developers, home builders, landlords, tenants, franchisees and local government. He also serves as the city attorney for Ocoee.

Et Al

111716iyn06Rotary Club of Lake Buena Vista President Jean Campana (left) welcomes new members Haley Warren (center) and Michael Burke.

Rotary Club of Lake Buena Vista inducted two new members at a recent meeting. Haley Warren is a development associate for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando, and Michael Burke is a professional golfer and instructor. The club meets Thursdays at 7:15 a.m. in the Lakeview Restaurant at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort.

111716iyn07Dr. Win Service Unit’s Girl Scout Troop 4620 members donate cookies to Seniors First.

Dr. Win Service Unit’s Girl Scout Troop 4620 teamed up with Seniors First for community service projects. The girls visited the corporate office on L.B. McLeod Road and learned about different ways to help the organization. They also donated cookies to Seniors First and are planning a toothpaste supply drive this month.

111716iyn08Residents participate in Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando’s eighth annual Latin Food & Wine Festival.

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando hosted its eighth annual Latin Food & Wine Festival in partnership with Ventana al Jazz, the city of Orlando, and Walt Disney World Resorts. Weekend festivities began with Savor the Night, an exclusive food and wine reception. During the evening, more than 600 guests sampled entrees provided by a variety of restaurants and enjoyed complimentary premium wines and spirits, as well as enjoyed a cigar lounge, photo booth and silent auction. The next day featured the Latin Food & Wine Festival, which boasted more than 10,000 attendees and more than 20 food vendors.

111716iyn03Fred Kosiewski (left), Girl Scout of Citrus board chairman; and Maryann Barry (right), CEO of Girl Scouts of Citrus; present a Woman of Distinction award to Windermere resident Allison Walsh, founder of Helping Other People Eat (H.O.P.E.), for her community impact.

Girl Scouts of Citrus representatives presented five Woman of Distinction awards to pay tribute to women whose actions improve their communities, organizations and around the world, and who embody the core principals of Girl Scouting: courage, confidence and character. Among the honorees was Windermere resident Allison Walsh. Allison received the award for her community impact. In 2001, after recovering from her own 3.5-year battle with bulimia and anorexia, Allison founded Helping Other People Eat (H.O.P.E.) to do everything possible to prevent others from struggling and help those in need. In the past 15 years, she raised more than $1 million nationally and provided education and support to thousands, including treatment to more than 1,000 Central Floridians.

Southwest resident and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs also received the award for her leadership. Since 2011, she has served as a change agent and leader, facing the complex social issues impacting Orange County citizens, including homelessness, domestic violence and child abuse, prescription drugs and heroin addiction, and youth mental health.

111716iyn09For their Silver Award project, (l. to r.) Karlen Randle, Amber Wilkison and Taylor Smith of Girl Scout Troop 4571 plant shrubs at Spirit Horse at Better Times Farm to buffer the fence line from heavy traffic noise.

Karlen Randle, Taylor Smith and Amber Wilkison of Dr. Win Service Unit’s Girl Scout Troop 4571 completed their Silver Award project, benefiting Spirit Horse at Better Times Farm in Winter Garden. The girls donated and planted 80 viburnum shrubs along the inside of the fence line bordering the main road to create a natural sound barrier from heavy traffic noise. Their effort will enhance the environment for therapeutic and general riding lessons at the non-profit equine rescue farm.

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