Nominations open for COVID-19 Heroes of Tampa Bay Awards

This July, Tampa Bay’s pandemic pioneers will have a permanent reminder of their dedication. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is set to award 19 heart sculptures to 19 residents and/or organizations supporting the community in the midst of coronavirus. Your vote is requested; the public is doing the picking.

Just as the COVID-19 heroes’ contributions to the community are unique, so too will be their awards. No two are the same. The nomination period opened May 25; any person or business in Hillsborough, Pinellas, or Pasco County is eligible to be recognized. Public voting for the whittled selection of 50 finalists begins June 22. Winners will be announced sometime in July.

The 19 ultimate winners will receive a trophy representative of the collaborative effort, bringing to mind the resounding cry of We’re all in this together.

“In having so many people come together to make and present these awards, we are showing the community just how small businesses work in collaboration to keep Tampa together,” says Jessica Philips, creative designer, and director of sales and marketing at Rustic Steel

Rustic Steel is providing the metal material and fabrication of the hearts. Laser cutting is completed by Rapid Metal Products. Then it’s on to GG Markers Powder Coating, which provides the Fire Engine Red color. The Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Periphery Media, Diamond View Studios, and ABC Action News have all offered assistance.

“We would never be able to pull this off alone,” says Philips.

The intricate design is particularly significant for Rustic Steel, which has heart sculptures featured throughout the United States. Their most visible heart sculptures are at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay as well as the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The one currently featured at their shop was previously installed on Cleveland Street in Downtown Clearwater. These 19, though, have special significance.

“We wanted to send our hearts out to Tampa Bay to show our love and support,” Philips says. 

Find the nomination form at
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Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.