R. E. Barnes Chairman of the Sir Victor Sassoon Bahamas Heart Foundation, and Dr. Donald Gerace.
Nassau, Bahamas - It was an evening
like none other. The Annual Heart Ball, held at Sheraton Nassau, Cable
Beach, was the site for two special announcements. Dr. Donald
Gerace of the Gerace Research Centre won the 42nd Lady Sassoon
Golden Heart Award. The applause of the audience was overwhelming. Additionally,
for the first time ever, the “God Red for Women” dress was unveiled.
The dress was designed by local designer Indira Moss, replicating the
“God red for Women” pins, which celebrate the lives of women, particularly
in the fight against heart disease.
has gained fame in the Bahamas for his work in San Salvador at the Gerace
Research Centre located there since 1971. He has worked closely with
the College of the Bahamas to make the Research Centre one of the premier
research centers in the Caribbean region. His work on marine biology,
archeology and the environment of the Bahamas has brought great recognition
for the Centre in San Salvador and for the Bahamas.
Chairman of the Sassoon Heart Foundation stated in his presentation
remarks that even though Dr Gerace should be rightfully credited for
his academic work here, he was not being recognized for that alone.
Heart Award winner is someone who gives of themselves to our community,
to make it a better place for all of us. Mr. Barnes noted that over
the years, Dr. Gerace has shown over and over again how much he loves
the Bahamas by his actions to help his fellow man.
Dr. Donald Gerace
arrived in San Salvador in 1971 and took over an abandoned United States
Navel Base located there with the goal of turning it into an educational
and scientific research institution. It took a lot of work to transform
the faltering buildings that he found into a suitable academic environment.
But with the aid of students and many of the local islanders, he did
Dr Gerace noted
that he was amazed at how the people of San Salvador readily accepted
him and his goals for the facility. He said he would never forget them
for how they welcomed him to their community. The people of San Salvador
will not soon forget him either.
Francis struck there, Dr Gerace helped get needed supplies and materials
to the island to help people start to rebuild. His connections from
the States brought in supplies quickly to help. In the days when there
was no bank there, he assisted by taking care of the costs to get things
to the island rapidly.
Dr Gerace helped
to form a local Boy Scout troop for San Salvador. He was critical in
the formation of Troop 1492 and was a leader of this group who were
famous for their smart looking uniforms with red berets.
Dr Gerace and
his wife Kathy are active members of the community at St Augustine’s
Anglican Church. He also has been an active Kiwanis Club member and
a charter director.
One of Dr Gerace’s
most significant gifts to the Bahamas has been the number of students
who have profited from the scholarships he helped to arrange. He set
up full tuition scholarships for Bahamian students to attend colleges
and universities in the U.S.A.
Dr Gerace and
his wife helped form the Donald T. and Kathy D. Gerace Foundation in
the early 1990’s for the purpose of supporting COB students studying
at the Gerace Research Centre, as well as for supporting the research
of the Centre. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see Bahamian students
staying at his home in Punta Gorda, Florida while they pursue their
studies in the U.S.
As the Bahamas
moved toward the quincentennial of the Columbus landing in 1992, the
Gerace Research Centre was the center of research and dissemination
of information on Columbus and his first landfall in the new world.
Archeologists from the Gerace Research Centre found many artifacts confirming
the landfall of Columbus at San Salvador and the trading the Spanish
did with the Indians. They hosted a major conference held in San Salvador
in 1986 and the results were published as a major work on Columbus and
since 1982 the Gerace Research centre has sponsored a conference on
either the geology or the natural history of the Bahamas. The Centre
has also sponsored several conferences and workshops in the field of
archaeology and hosts field trips and workshops from the U.S., Europe
and the Bahamas.
from the Gerace Research Centre has become part of the knowledge of
the local people, where it is used by tour operators and those interested
in preserving the natural history and environment of San Salvador. He
has helped to preserve and enrich the Bahamas by adding to our knowledge
about these special islands.
In 2003, Dr.
Gerace formed a non-profit foundation in Florida called the Bahamas
Education, Culture and Science Foundation, Inc. The purpose of this
company is to raise tax-free donations in the United States for the
support of tertiary education in the Bahamas, such as the College of
the Bahamas. Funds are being raised to assist Bahamians to attend college
and grants are being submitted to raise funds for equipment for COB
and the Gerace Research Centre.
In his presentation
to Dr. Gerace, Heart Foundation Chairman, R.E. Barnes said, “Through
his efforts at the Gerace Research Centre he has contributed to the
greater wealth of understanding of the biology, archaeology, geology,
marine sciences and history of the Bahamas. He has enriched the Bahamas
with a greater appreciation of all the things around us and made our
world a richer place for his presence in our world.”
on to further say. “ It is clear that when the Bahamians of San Salvador
opened up their doors to Donald Gerace, they found a true friend.”
“He in kind has opened up so many doors for Bahamians, that he is
truly a man with a golden heart.” “One that will keep giving to
the Bahamas for years to come”.
The Heart Ball
is the major fundraiser for The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation,
which provides support for children. Additionally, the Foundation works
in conjunction with The Bahamas Heart Association to educate and inform
Bahamians about heart care and healthy heart lifestyles in hopes of
deterring Bahamians from having heart problems.
The Lady Sassoon
Golden Heart Award is named in honour of the late Lady Evelyn Sassoon,
who established The Foundation in memory of her late husband, Sir Victor
Sassoon. The deadline for nominations is normally the third Monday in
January of each year.