FPRA-Capital Chapter’s 14th Annual Roast & Toast a World-Class Act

| Written by: Karen Kirksey

Wearing his “I Care” values on his sleeve, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare President & CEO Mark O’Bryant showed that he could take a joke Tuesday night, at a dinner in his honor at the FSU Alumni Center. After all, it was for a good cause.

O’Bryant was in the hot seat at the Florida Public Relations Association-Capital Chapter’s 14th Annual Roast & Toast. The dinner and silent auction is the group’s signature fundraiser. It provides scholarships for outstanding students at the Florida State University College of Communication and the Florida A&M University School of Journalism and Graphic Communication.

It was a night of fine dining, fellowship and lots of laughs. More than 200 business and community leaders came to the event, dressed to impress in cocktail attire or TMH blue. Among them was FPRA’s State President Jennifer Moss, who traveled from Sarasota for the occasion.

Printed programs featured a caricature of O’Bryant in running shorts and shoes with a shirt and tie, symbolizing his hospital’s journey toward the recognized world-class status he often talks about. At each place setting was a Boston cream pie cupcake, O’Bryant’s favorite dessert.

Gary Yordon, host of the local political TV show “The Usual Suspects,” emceed the Roast for the 13th year. He encouraged invited roasters not to hold back in their comments about O’Bryant. The problem with roasting someone like Mark, he said, is that he’s a nice guy. “It’s like watching Santa Claus fall off his sleigh.”

One by one, the speakers gave it their best shot: Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer; Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben; WCTV news anchor Julie Montanaro and Southeastern Urological Center physician Joseph Camps.

They told everything from fish tales to wiener jokes. On a more serious note, Yordon credited O’Bryant with transforming the 770-bed Tallahassee Memorial Hospital into an institution of nurturing and healing.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of Communicator of the Year Award to Ron Sachs, president of Ron Sachs Communications, one of the top 100 independent public relations firms in the U.S.
The award is given annually to an individual in the communications field who uses his or her position to enhance Tallahassee’s community causes; advance the field of public relations and uphold the ethical standards that represent the Capital Chapter.

Sachs is a veteran communicator who served as former Governor Lawton Chiles’ chief spokesman. His award-winning media experience includes stints in newspaper and television.

Sachs said he was deeply honored to receive the award. And he marveled at the young people –communications students, interns and his own employees who are so enthused about the public relations profession.

“There’s a code of ethics that governs what we do,” said Sachs, but the most important work we do is what we give back to the community.”

To date, the Capital Chapter has awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships to communications students at FSU and FAMU.

“We have a lot of fun with Roast,” said president  Ivette Marques, “but we’re serious about its purpose. It’s all about raising money for scholarships for future public relations professionals. In these difficult economic times, we are happy we can provide this community service.”