A FishHawk Ranch dad with a commitment to the poor will be honored during this year’s Brandon Fourth of July Parade as the Father of the Year.
Each year the Community Roundtable, which organizes the parade, asks school children in the community to write letters about their special dads. The winning child and dad rides in a convertible in the parade.
This year nearly 300 children answered the call, nominating their dads with heart-felt essays, according to Roundtable board member Janine Nickerson.
The 2012 Father of the Year is Christopher Coleman, 45, a software developer for AT&T.
His 11-year-old daughter, Christina, a FishHawk Creek Elementary student, wrote about her father’s work with a national nonprofit called Remember the Poor.
For the past five years, Coleman has spent 10 days in Haiti where the group sponsors three schools and churches, provides 500 meals a day to children and work on community service projects such as digging new wells.
"My dad is heroic because he goes to Haiti and helps those who go to bed hungry. He also helps people living on the streets that ask for help. He gives them a bed to sleep in and food to eat. My dad always puts others before himself,” wrote Christina Coleman.
Coming in second place was another FishHawk Ranch father.
Vincent Kennedy was nominated by his daughter, Sarah Grace, 10, a Bevis Elementary School student.
With Kennedy's help, FishHawk's Relay for Life team raised more than $160,000 for cancer research this year.
"My daddy’s my hero,” wrote Sarah Grace Kennedy. “He’s the most caring man in the world. He has Stage 4 colon cancer, but he still puts others before himself. He was the Relay For Life honorary chairperson. He also raises money to fight cancer. My dad is brave and an inspiration to our family!"
Brandon resident Dan Rothenbush, 39, was this year’s third-place Father of the Year winner. He was nominated by his 9-year-old daughter, Lauren, a Symmes Elementary School student, who said she was inspired by her father’s commitment to exercise and living a healthy lifestyle following open-heart surgery.
Following surgery, Rothenbush became a triathlete.
"My dad is a hero to me because, a few years ago, he had to have open heart surgery. Since he has gotten better, he has become a triathelete. He can run, bike and swim. Now he’s teaching me to become one, too. He is actually very special to me,” wrote Lauren Rothenbush.