Community Spotlight Shines On Groveland And The Challenged Champions and Heroes
First Published On South Lake Tablet
Front Page Feature and Article
By: By Linda Charlton, South Lake Tablet
In Groveland, at Hope International Church, there is a special needs ministry called Hope Torchlighters. Challenged Champions was formed in 2015, Hope Torchlighters was formed in 2018, and on Saturday, July 24, the two groups came together to honor members of the area's special needs community.
The event, which organizers hope to make an annual tradition, is officially called the Challenged Champions and Heroes Awards Ceremony. Honorees included special needs individuals, as well as siblings and caregivers. The sanctuary at Hope International was transformed into a banquet hall for the occasion, complete with visiting dignitaries, red carpet, a catered meal, and celebratory photo ops.
The event also tied in directly with a proclamation approved by the Groveland City Council, proclaiming this Thursday, July 29, as National Challenged Champions and Heroes Awareness Day.
The date holds personal significance for Challenged Champions founder Dr. Robin Lococo, for that is the birthday of the older sister she never met: Debra Marie Mosier, who died of cerebral palsy at age three. Reflecting on the individuals Challenged Champions has honored, Lococo said "I'm seeing them doing and better things than the able-bodied."
The City proclamation reads in part that "Many times, the physically and mentally challenged individuals are overlooked in society and perceived as a burden. CCH (Challenged Champions and Heroes) believe that this is not so. These individuals' abilities are as vast as their disabilities may be."
Lococo and CCH vice president Dr. Penny Heflebower were both on hand to present the awards.
The connection between the awards banquet and the City of Groveland is Pastor Joscelyn Ramos Campbell, who serves as a member of the City's Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee. Campbell is also the mother of a special needs child and served as master of ceremonies for the event. She founded the Hope Torchlighters ministry with the full support of her senior pastor, Tony McCoy.
"Challenged Champions and Heros" Award
There were four youth who received Recognition Awards
Isabella "Izzy" Kry was recognized for bringing joy to people around her and for the joy she finds in life and in praise and worship.
Nathan Velazquez was recognized for being an outstanding young citizen. He encourages other children to obey the rules and discourages them from mistreating others.
Troy Winters' generosity to fellow humans has included emptying his piggy bank to help feed the hungry which is only one reason why he received the recognition.
Derek's mom Kandi expressed appreciation stating, "It was a real honor for Derek. We love that the City truly embraced the event to support the families and we as a family are grateful for the National award and that the youth in our community are given the opportunities to share awareness and experience of their journey with others. Our family had a wonderful time and we are honored with the work Derek was and is able to do in his community".
Army veteran Octavia Mitchell received the Challenged Champions and Heroes Award, wowing the crowd with her competitive spirit and smack talk about beating out other veterans in various competitive sports. Bocce ball, which she is quick to point out that she does with her right hand only, seems to be her favorite.
The Challenged Champions organization does, on occasion, give out a selfless service award for lifetime achievement. The first recipient of the award was Mama Sarah Obama, recently deceased, who is the Kenyan grandmother of former president Barack Obama. The second recipient is Groveland's very own Pastor Joscelyn Ramos Campbell.
The evening proved to be a magical event.
Joscelyn Ramos Campbell