Florida Blue Foundation reveals 13 Sapphire health care award finalists

Out of an original 112 nominees, Florida Blue Foundation recently announced 13 finalist candidates for its coveted 2016 Sapphire Awards.

Out of an original 112 nominees, Jacksonville, Florida's Florida Blue Foundation recently announced 13 finalist candidates for its coveted 2016 Sapphire Awards — with its promise of grants totaling $350,000.

The prize recognizes entities whose work in the community health-care arena displays qualities of leadership, originality and accomplishment. Winners will be selected by an independent panel of experts and announced at an upcoming two-day Sapphire Symposium entitled "Health Transformation: The Power of Engagement," scheduled for April 20-21 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando.

"This group of finalists truly represents the outstanding individuals, programs and nonprofit organizations that stood out as the best in their categories," Susan Towler, Florida Blue Foundation’s VP, said. "The foundation is proud to recognize them as finalists for the excellent work they are doing to make Florida a healthier state."

The baker’s dozen of last-round contenders were chosen in three categories: individuals, programs and nonprofits. Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative of Tampa, Osceola County Council on Aging in Kissimmee and HANDS of St. Lucie County of Fort Pierce are three nonprofits in the running.

Program finalists are MBF Child Safety Matters - Monique Burr Foundation in Jacksonville; Smiles Across Miami - Nova Southeastern University from Fort Lauderdale; Bithlo Transformation Effort: Dental Care Access Program – Florida Hospital of Orlando, and Miami’s Pediatric Mobile Clinic - University of Miami.

Six individual contenders include Bakari Burns of Orlando, Richard Christensen of Jacksonville, Doug Kent of Bay and Gulf Counties, Aggie Pappas of Fort Lauderdale, Jasmin Denise Shirley of Fort Lauderdale and Bret Smith of Kissimmee.

Florida Blue Foundation, which has granted Sapphire Awards annually since 2005, is an independent philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, the state’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate.

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