“Recognition is the process of recognizing or being recognized as well as to provide acceptance, admission and the acknowledgement of someone or something’s existence, validity or legality.”

When someone is recognized, someone is acknowledging that they have accomplished something. In that process of accomplishing they became mentors and leaders. Throughout history many great people have been recognized and many deserving people have been overlooked.

It is for those who are overlooked, those with no voice, that the 19 men and women being honored at this year’s 2014 Champions of Equality, continue to fight their individual fights for complete equality among mankind.

The Ninth Annual Champions of Equality is presented by SAVE, which stands for Safeguarding American Values for Everyone. SAVE, which began in 1993 as SAVE Dade, by a small group of people who decided to fight against the Anita Bryant’s decided to fight against Anita Bryant’s anti-gay “Save our Children” campaign, which repealed Miami-Dade’s Human Rights Ordinance.

Currently, it is the oldest organization in South Florida that assists, defends, and looks out for the LGBT community.

“I’m very proud to be at the helm of an organization that has such rich and important history and are actively fighting for human rights, which are the most important thing to be doing at this time,” said Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE.

This year’s honor is extended to three individuals and eight couples for their courageous fight against inequality in the LGBT community. Their voices come from all levels of society.

The honorees include Florida State Representative David Richardson for coming out in 2005, while continuously fighting for the rights of the LGBT community and still winning the election for state representative as an openly gay candidate, and Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson for her fight to modernize the Miami-Dade County Human Rights Ordinance to help protect individuals from being discriminated against.

“I am grateful and honored,” Edmonson said. “I thank the many people who support me but more importantly support SAVE and its efforts to make our community truly open, welcoming and fair.”

It’s individuals like the above inductees that make the third inductee, Joe Cardona’s job easier. His passion is to fight for all equality, which is fueled by his shame of society’s actions, reactions and acceptance to differences among individuals not only in the LGBT community, but all communities. His documentary “The Day is Snowed in Miami” features the struggles of the LGBT community is South Florida over the last few decades and follows the birth of SAVE.

“It’s a tremendous honor and recognition, I’m humbled. This is probably one of the greatest awards I’ve gotten in my life because it’s from the heart,” said Cardona, who is a producer and writer for the Miami Herald. “It’s not some academy, it’s more than professional for me, and it’s personal. To make work that affect’s people or helps people, that’s what it is all about.”

Besides the above three individuals, the eight couples (see below) involved in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban on gay marriage in Florida will also be honored.

SAVE will host the celebration and reception 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday May 9, at the Hyatt Regency Miami at 400 SE 2 Ave Miami, FL 33131.

The event will include a cocktail reception, a silent auction, dancing and live music featuring Karina Iglesias of NBC’s “The Voice.”

Guest can buy tickets at the door for $150 or in advance for $125 at www.SaveDade.org/champions. All of the proceeds go to supporting the SAVE foundation in their efforts to fight, defend and support the LGBT communities.


1. For the last fifty years, Fort Lauderdale residents, Chuck Hunzinger and Bob Collier, both serving in the United States Military, have continued to unify their bond and fight for the rights of the LGBT community. These men are highly respected in the LGBT community, for their continuous and long term efforts to pave the road for others. They were officially married in July 2013, in New York.

2. Sarah Humtie, executive director of Pensacola Humane Society and Lindsay Myers, a radio digital content producer, who were married just over six months ago in Washington D.C., joined the lawsuit because neither can get their employment health insurance because they are a same sex couple.

3. Also married in New York in 2013, are Robert Loupo, a school counselor for the last 14 years at Miami Dade Public Schools and his spouse, John Fitzgerald, now retired from Delta Airlines and the Miami-Dade Traffic Court Administrative Office.

4. For their valiant efforts in the lawsuit and the community, Sloan Grimsley, a firefighter and paramedic in the City of Palm Beach Gardens, and her wife of just under 3 years Joyce Albu, a consultant for children living with autism, ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. With two young adopted daughters, they fear that if something happens to Grimsley, that her wife and children would not receive the benefits.

5. Miami residents, Christian Ulvert, a political consultant and his spouse, Carlos Andrade, a new media director of EDGE Communications were married in Washington D.C. in 2013 and hope to have children one day.

6. For the last 12 years, Miami-Dade residents, Richard Milstein, a family law attorney and Erik Hankin, an architect and teacher have spent many hours volunteering and fighting for the LGBT community. They commenced their marriage in Iowa in 2010. Milstein understands the importance of the fight and is very obliged of the honor.

7. Residing in Miami Florida, Denise Hueso, a Clinical Care Coordinator for the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth and her wife Sandra Newson, the Vice President of Residence Services at Carrfour Supportive Housing, were married in Massachusetts in 2009. Over the last seventeen years together they have provided many beneficial services to the LGBT community as well as for their adopted son. Hueso and Newson tell of how this honor that they will receive from SAVE will be held close to the heart. “This is beyond an honor, to work so hard for so long to help fight for rights of individuals in the LGBT communities and to be recognized for it, wow, this holds a special place in our hearts.”

8. Married in D.C. in 2012, Juan de Hierro, Director of Ministry Empowerment for Unity on the Bay and his spouse Thomas Gantt Jr., a virtual school science teacher, share a 16 month old adopted son. For the last 6 years they have fought together against inequality and to be honored de Hierro expresses is an amazing feeling. “We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into fighting for equality and this honor; it’s a highlight of that and a highlight of my life. We are very blessed and grateful for all we have and our family unit.”