USA Gymnastics director and South Florida Baptist Hospital President Karen Kerr will accept the 14th annual YMCA Strong Leader Award Tuesday, Aug. 23.
The YMCA has been a part of Karen Kerr’s life for nearly as long as she can remember.
The current president of South Florida Baptist Hospital probably never imagined as a youth that, one day, the Y would give back to her. On Tuesday, Aug. 23, Karen Kerr will be honored with the Plant City Family YMCA’s 14th Strong Leader award.
“I certainly was very humbled when I was asked earlier if I would be the Strong Leader … the names of people who have been Strong Leaders before me, to be put in that group, it’s quite an honor,” Karen Kerr says.
Growing up in Jamestown, New York, Karen Kerr was a part of her local YMCA and YWCA organizations. She became a Florida resident at age 19 and, after completing college, she got back into the Y when her daughter, Ashley Kerr, begin taking gymnastics lessons there.
That was in the 1990s, before the Plant City Family YMCA disaffiliated with the Lakeland branch and joined the Tampa Metropolitan family.
Karen Kerr was present for the switch and the construction of the current Plant City Y building. She was encouraged to get involved with the board of directors. She served as board chair for several three-year terms. She also led the community fundraising campaign twice before leaving the board to pursue other ventures.
Karen Kerr credits the Plant City Y not only for getting her daughter’s gymnastics career started but also for getting her more involved with the sport.
“The club that Ashley was involved with before she went to college was over in Orlando, and it was a fundraising effort for their booster club,” Karen Kerr says. “They started a gymnastics competition. Once we got over there as a family … I got involved in the tournament and, as the years went on, I got more involved. It got to the point where I was basically running the meets, coordinating the meets.”
She directs USA Gymnastics events in Orlando each year, which have hosted as many as 4,000 athletes in the past.
Karen Kerr’s work in the YMCA helped her win the award but, since she is no longer involved with the Y on the same level, her work wasn’t the only thing the Y took into consideration.
She is a member of the Plant City Economic Development Corp. Executive Committee, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, the South Florida Baptist Hospital Foundation and the Daybreak Rotary Club. She is a past member of the Tampa Bay Organization of Nurse Executives.
“Kerr’s contributions to the Plant City community echo the Y's commitment to strengthening the community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” the Plant City Family YMCA stated in a release.
“I think it’s not just the Y, I think it’s the community in general,” Karen Kerr says. “The strong support of this community for not only the YMCA, but the hospital — it’s important for me to be involved in the community, and it’s not hard to do because I love Plant City.”
Contact Justin Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23
Where: John R. Trinkle Center at Hillsborough Community College, 1206 N. Park Road
Cost: $75 per person
Contact: Natalie Sweet, NSweet@kw.com