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Press Release


2015 ViVa Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Festival Award Recipients Announced

The ViVa Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Festival Award recipients are being honored on Sunday, October 18th 2015 at the Historic Centennial Park in Ybor City with proclamations from Mayor Buck Buckhorn. Each honoree was selected by their respective peers for his or her outstanding contributions toward enhancing the quality of life and advancement of Tampa’s community.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, we take time to recognize how Florida’s growing and contributing Hispanic population enriches our state and strengthens Florida’s cultural and economic ties to Latin America. The diversity of Florida’s people and cultures truly makes Tampa one of the most vibrant communities’ in the country. This year’s ViVa Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Award recipients are:


Romy Camargo-

“Romy met the love of his life, Gabriela in Venezuela 28 years ago. Romy entered the U.S. Army in 1995 and served with the 7th Special Forces Group and the 75th Ranger Regiment.  CW3 Camargo’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (2OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (1OLC), Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM, 2OLC), Joint Service Achievement Medal (JSAM), Ranger Tab, Special Forces Tab, Master Parachutist Badge and the Special Operations Dive Supervisors Badge.  In 2008 CW3 Camargo was on his third tour in Afghanistan.  While on a mission in Zabol Province, Afghanistan, the Special Forces Warrant Officer and his unit were ambushed. Fighting their way out of the attack, Camargo was shot in the neck.  That wound left him paralyzed from the neck down.  Romy knows that things may appear as adversity yet they are actually an opportunity. After spending endless hours each day driving to and from rehab, Romy and Gaby decided to create a facility for the future. One that has rehab programs and equipment that allow quadriplegics and paraplegics the ability to stand and exercise. One that provides support for caregivers complete with a community of inspiration and motivation. Determined to make this dream a reality, Romy, Gaby, friends and sponsors raised enough funds to open the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center to service veterans and civilians from around Tampa and the United States. Men and women can come to this facility for not only the physical rehab but for the strengthening required for this journey. One that is often bumpy, painful and fraught with despair if one is ill equipped. Romy spends five days a week pursing a grueling rehabilitation schedule and building Stay in Step as the premier facility to help people get back in the game. Tampa congratulates Romy, Gaby and his family. A great Hero!”


Martin Gramatica-

After his retirement from the National Football League, Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer kicker formed the non-profit foundation called, The Gramatica Family Foundation. The foundation is aimed at helping wounded or struggling veterans, often dedicating homes like to women and men who served our country. The work being done by the Gramatica Family Foundation is a prime example of the type of lasting impact our current and former players have in our community. We are very proud to recognize the work Martin and his family continue to do on behalf of disabled military veterans in the Tampa Bay Area. The Gramatica Family Foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to provide energy efficient housing initiatives and development assistance to disabled military veterans, the underprivileged and the ailing. While conducting business in the Tampa Bay area, the Gramatica brothers saw a need to support deserving members of their community especially combat wounded veterans.

The Gramatica family, consisting of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Martin Gramatica, his brothers Bill, previously with the Arizona Cardinals and former USF kicker Santiago founded Gramatica SIPS International in 2009. Gramatica SIPS provides a full line of services involving Structural Insulated Panel Systems also known as SIPS. Structurally Insulated Panels are environmentally friendly building products that provide greater levels of insulation and show tremendous strength in extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, earthquakes and other hazardous weather. While conducting business in the Tampa Bay area, the Gramatica brothers saw a need to support deserving members of their community especially combat wounded veterans. They began partnering with other organizations to increase awareness and support of veterans in the Bay Area; especially those veterans who return from combat duty and face insurmountable health and financial challenges. For this reason, we are proud to recognize the Gramatica family and his foundation with the ViVa Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Festival.


Excellence in Education award winners are:


Dr. Lisa Lopez- University of South Florida Associate Professor of Educational Psychology


Dr. Lisa Lopez is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of South Florida. Prior to her position at USF, she was an NSF postdoctoral fellow in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Lopez conducts research focused on furthering our understanding of, and improving upon, the educational and environmental opportunities of young Latino children in the United States. Her research goals are to understand how Latino Dual Language Learner children develop school readiness skills and identify ways the home and classroom environments can help young Latino children be successful in school. She frequently partners with local Head Start agencies in supporting their initiatives to better serve the Latino community, serving both on the policy council and school readiness committee of the Hillsborough County Head Start program. Dr. Lopez served as Principal Investigator of a Head Start University Partnership Grant to identify the cognitive and social strengths of Latino children attending Head Start throughout Florida; served as co-investigator on several federally funded research initiatives focused around curriculum and assessment of young Latino children; and served as a core research advisor for the Center for Early Care and Education Research: Dual Language Learners informing the U.S. government on the status of early education for Latinos in the U.S.. Dr. Lopez has authored and co-authored numerous journal articles and book chapters focused on the development of school readiness skills of Latino Dual Language Learners and the home and classroom factors relating to this development. At USF she mentors Latina women pursuing their graduate degrees, is a member of the Status of Latinos presidential advisory committee, heads the USF bilingual school readiness lab, and teaches a doctoral level course with a focus on bilingual language and literacy development.  Dr. Lopez has also been featured as an expert on bilingualism in young Latino children on the Bilingual Avenue podcast and on Univision’s special “Estudiante Unico”.


Lourdes BriscoHillsborough county Public school teacher at Hunter’s Green Elementary


Lourdes Brisco is the daughter of Cuban immigrant parents. She understands the struggles her parents faced when they left their country in search of a better life. Lourdes’ journey began in Spain and continued when she and her parents moved to the United States. Lourdes graduated from Kean University in New Jersey in 1986 with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Soon after she moved to Miami and began her teaching career. She became very active in her school and community. She taught the ESOL program, IB Spanish program and the IB Italian program. In 2001 she was named teacher of the year for Carver Elementary in Dade County and again in 2011 in Hillsborough County for Hunter’s Green Elementary. She was also the recipient of the Ida S Baker award in 2011-2012 and 2014-2015 representing Hunter’s Green Elementary. Lourdes Brisco has been the chairperson and/or member of the following committees at Hunter’s Green Elementary: ELL committee, Hispanic Heritage, School Advisory, Team Leader, Social Committee and PTA Liaison. It is not about promoting quality education that defines Lourdes Brisco’s role as an educator but rather successfully achieving the goals of Hillsborough County’s School district that comes from her efforts as teacher, mentor and a professional. For the past years, she continues to work diligently to meet the goals of promoting diversity both at Hunter’s Green Elementary and in the community. As the ELL Resource teacher for Hunter’s Green, she welcomes refugee students from various countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Somalia, Burma, Iraq and many others. This ensures they immediately feel an instantaneous connection to our community within the school. Lourdes has also gone to their homes to welcome them and their families to the New Tampa Community.


Distinguished First Responders award winners are:


Edwin Galvan- City of Tampa Police Officer


Master Patrol Officer Edwin Galvan was born in the Bronx, New York and has been married for 28 years to the love of his life, Sandra. He has two children, who are now grown; Gabe 26 years old, and Chris who is 22. Edwin spent 13 years in the United States Marine Corps and is a Gulf War veteran. MPO Galvan was assigned to a Marine Security detachment on a Naval Weapons Station, Machine Gunner in the First Marine Division (which he LOVED), a rifleman in a New Rochelle Reserve Unit in New York, and ultimately moved to a Motor Transport Unit, which is where he received his Gulf deployment orders, and lost his hearing while serving overseas. He joined the Tampa Police Department Reserve Unit in 2000, and liked police work so much, he decided to return to school, and acquire his necessary 60 college credits. As a result, MPO Galvan was afforded the opportunity to attend the Police Academy under scholarship with the City of Tampa. He became a full time, duly sworn officer in 2003, and since then has served in all three districts respectfully. MPO Galvan’s assignments have included Uniform Patrol, School Resource, Quick Uniform Attack on Drugs (QUAD SQAUD), Street Anti-Crimes, he has served as a field training officer for incoming probationary officers, and now works as a full time instructor, assigned to the Tampa Police Training Unit


Master Detective Jose Lugo- Hillsborough County Sheriff


Corporal Jose V. Lugo has been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years. He was born in Brooklyn New York, but was raised in Puerto Rico where he graduated from High School. After his graduation he joined the United States Army in 1989, and served as a medical specialist working with children in the medical field. In 1991 he had the opportunity to be a part of the first Gulf War and was deployed to Saudi Arabia. He received an honorable discharge from the United States Army in 1993. Corporal Lugo joined the Denver Sheriff’s Office in the State of Colorado in 1994. In 2002, Corporal Lugo’s relocated to the State of Florida and joined the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in 2003.


Since 2003 Corporal Lugo was assigned to the patrol division and shortly after, he was reassigned to the Special Investigations Division with the Gang Enforcement Section. Corporal Lugo was involved in the first “sting” operation by HCSO in 18 years.   This investigation yielded over 204 stolen firearms recovered, 1.8 million dollars in recovered stolen property, and approximately 200 arrests. He transferred to the Criminal Investigations Division seven years ago where he began in the Violent Crime Section. He was soon reassigned to the Homicide Section and in the subsequent years has been involved in the investigation of over 130 cases. In 33 of those investigations, Corporal Lugo served as the lead detective, solving all his cases, with only one case remaining open due to exigent circumstances. Corporal Lugo was recently promoted to the rank of Corporal and remains with the Homicide Section as a supervisor, and has experience in managing major homicide cases, to include death penalty cases. Corporal Lugo has testified in several Grand Jury proceedings.  Corporal Lugo is the recipient of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Medal of Distinguished Service in 2009 and the recipient of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Distinguished Performance Award. Corporal Lugo and his wife have been married for last 19 years. He has six children, two graduated from college, three currently in college, and one who is a senior in high school. Corporal Lugo is dedicated to his family and passionate about bringing closure to the families of victims and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. Corporal Lugo is currently enrolled in Saint Leo University and is close to finishing his bachelor’s degree.


Captain Tony Perez – City of Tampa Firefighter


Since joining Tampa Fire Rescue in 1997, Captain Tony Perez has exhibited nothing but sheer dedication and determination at being the best firefighter possible. Captain Perez is a base-lined Hazardous Materials Technician, is certified in Aircraft rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) and is also a member of USAR Task Force 3 serving as a Rescue Specialist. Captain Perez has been a dedicated member of the Honor Guard since 1999. As a State Certified instructor and a Live Fire Training Instructor, Captain Perez has taught a myriad of disciplines including extrication, high angle rescue, fire ground tactics, hydraulics and a host of other components of TFR operations. Captain Perez is a lead instructor for the TFR Minimum Standards program through the Leary Vocational Technical Center and also teaches minimum standards at St. Pete College. Off duty, he works with “Big Brothers and Big Sisters” in St. Pete where his amicability and kindness help keep our youth on the right path. But perhaps Captain Tony’s biggest attribute has been reflected in his after-hours and off-duty commitment to mentorship and more than that; lending whatever helping hand is needed to boost young candidates and others who desire to follow him along the path of great firefighter.


Amigo and Amiga Award


Steve Hill-

Sergeant First Class (Ret) Steve Hill was born in Colombia.  He lived in the South Eastern United States throughout his childhood finally residing in Florida.  He joined the U.S. Army in July of 1994 and was assigned to 2nd of the 5th Light Infantry, 25th Infantry Light at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.  In August of 1999 he relocated to Fort Bragg, NC where he served with 1st Battalion 504th Airborne Infantry and was a Pre-Ranger Instructor for the 82nd Div (ABN).  In 2001, he was selected for Drill Sergeant Duty and served at Ft. Jackson, SC.  He began my Special Forces training in 2004 and began serving with 7th Special Forces group in 2006.  He finished his remaining active duty time as a company First Sergeant for Charlie Company 6th Bn, 1st Special Warfare Training Group. He has deployed to multiple hazardous duty locations and transitioned from the military in April 2015 and was placed on retirement status 1 August 2015.  He is a trained medic and is currently the Lead Trainer and Program Director for Stay in Step Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Center assisting CWO-3 Romy Camargo and other injured Veterans.


Hilary Dalton, DMD,MS-

Dr. Hilary Dalton is a native of Tampa. She graduated from Tufts University-School of Dental Medicine in Boston with an award of Excellence for Outstanding Leadership and for Extraordinary Clinical Achievement. She continued another 3 years of specialization in periodontology as well as master in science in regeneration at the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center. She finished earning a certificate of Excellence from Dr. & Mrs. Kramer Scholarship for Excellence. She is board certified in Periodontics, microsurgery certified, laser proficiency certified, and Invisalign certified. She was voted by her peer dentists for Super Dentist 2006, and received the President’s Bronze Award for her volunteerism that same year. She was selected by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2008 for the Up & Comers Award.

Dr. Dalton practiced in Texas for almost 10 years, before she relocated to Tampa to be close to her family as well as raise her own family here. She is committed to provide the best and most up-to-date care with strong belief in continuing education. She is compassionate, dedicated, and caring. Dr. Dalton has performed pro bono dental work for children as well as adults in Houston, Tampa, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and other countries in Central and South America since 1996. As Dr. Dalton says with a smile on her face, “I love what I do & I love my patients-this is my passion, mi aficionado.”

Special Tribute to the 65th Infantry Regiment “Los Borinqueneers”


The 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Borinqueneers, made history June 10 when President Barack Obama signed the bill to award it the Congressional Gold Medal. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The Congressional Gold Medal recognition parallels that of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but it is awarded less frequently and is arguably more rigorous due to its stringent legislative requirements. AUSA endorsed the initiative. The 65th Infantry Regiment was the only Hispanic-segregated, active duty military unit in the armed forces. It was established after Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898 and was deactivated in 1956. It was predominately composed of soldiers from Puerto Rico with minor elements of other ethnicities, including Anglo, African-American, Virgin Islander, Filipino and Mexican-American. A remnant battalion from the regiment—1st Battalion, 65th Infantry— remains in the Puerto Rican National Guard, where it still serves in the nation’s ongoing military campaigns. The leading movement behind this gold-medal cause originated with a grass-roots volunteer group called the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance, founded by Frank Medina, who is a former Army captain, West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran. It was sponsored by the You Are Strong! Center for Veterans Health and Human Services. The unit participated in World War I, World War II and, most notably, the Korean War. On their journey by ship to fight in the Korean War, soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment drew their nickname from a lottery of other proposed nicknames. The anglicized moniker originates after the island of Puerto Rico’s indigenous name, Borinquen, meaning “Land of the Brave Lord.” It was during the Korean War that the Borinqueneers performed their pinnacle military achievements and demonstrated much valor and heroism amid the adversities of segregation, institutional prejudice, language barriers and other obstacles. It was the first time the unit was assigned to a combat role, departing from established policies in which segregated units were not allowed to fight on the front lines.


Overall, individual members of the 65th Infantry Regiment earned a Medal of Honor, 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, over 250 Silver Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars and approximately 3,000 Purple Hearts. In March, Master Sgt. Juan E. Negron was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor along with 23 other recipients, making him the first Medal of Honor recipient from the 65th Infantry. Out of more than 160 Congressional Gold Medal recipients since 1776, only one other Hispanic American has earned the prestigious distinction. Roberto Clemente, baseball Hall-of-Famer and humanitarian, also from Puerto Rico, received the honor in 1973 after passing away in an airplane crash while delivering food and other supplies to survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua. The 65th Infantry Regiment exceeded the expectations of military leadership, who had previously harbored ill-conceived notions about the soldiers of the unit and their capabilities.


General Info: Event Promoter Mrs. Arlene Marie at

Phone: (813) 484-3331

Event Details:  Sunday, October 18th, 2015.  11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

@ Centennial Park 1800 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605