Imagine getting through your busy day without hands or legs. Picture your life without the ability to walk, care for your basic needs, or even embrace those you love. Meet Nicholas Vujicic (pronounced VOO-yee-cheech). Without any medical explanation or warning, Nick was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, without arms and legs. Three sonograms failed to reveal complications. And yet, the Vujicic family was destined to cope with both the challenge and blessing of raising a son who refused to allow his physical condition to limit his lifestyle.
The early days were difficult. Throughout his childhood, Nick not only dealt with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, but he also struggled with depression and loneliness. Nick constantly wondered why he was different than all the other kids. He questioned the purpose of life, or if he even had a purpose.
According to Nick, the victory over his struggles, as well as his strength and passion for life today, can be credited to his faith in God. His family, friends and the many people he has encountered along the journey have inspired him to carry on, as well.
Since his first speaking engagement at age 19, Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions, sometimes in stadiums filled to capacity, speaking to a range of diverse groups such as students, teachers, young people, business professionals and church congregations of all sizes. Today this dynamic young evangelist has accomplished more than most people achieve in a lifetime. He’s an author, musician, actor, and his hobbies include fishing, painting and swimming. In 2007, Nick made the long journey from Australia to southern California where he is the president of the international non-profit ministry, Life Without Limbs, which was established in 2005.
Nick says, “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!” Nick’s latest foray into radio will expand his platform for inviting men and women all around the world to embrace the liberating hope and message of Jesus Christ.
Governor Pat McCrory
Since entering office, Governor Pat McCrory has worked to improve North Carolina in three key areas: the economy, education and efficiency.
He signed historic tax reform into law that put more money into the paychecks of hard working families by reducing personal and corporate tax rates. This reform is expected to save North Carolinians $4.4 billion over the next five years.
The governor also reformed North Carolina’s outdated unemployment insurance system and streamlined the state’s workforce development programs, paying off a $2.6 billion debt owed to the federal government, saving employers hundreds of millions of dollars that can be invested in employees, modernization and expansion.
These, and other decisions, have fueled the Carolina Comeback.
Lt. Governor Dan Forest
In 2012, in his first run for elected office at any level, Dan Forest became only the second Republican since 1897 to be elected Lieutenant Governor in the state of North Carolina. Dan’s victory to the State’s second highest office came after he personally travelled nearly 300,000 miles to all 100 counties.
This same work ethic was demonstrated in Dan’s previous career. A registered architect, Dan rose from office intern (while in college) to Office President and Senior Partner of the North Carolina’s largest architectural firm over his 22 year career.
Representative Nancy Landry
Nancy Ruth Landry is a family practice lawyer from Lafayette, Louisiana, who is a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 31 (Lafayette and Vermilion parishes). She won the seat in a special election in 2008 upon the resignation of Republican Donald Trahan. In the 2007 nonpartisan blanket primary, Landry had come within thirty-three votes of defeating Trajan.
Senator Mike Walsworth
Senator Mike Walsworth is a lifelong resident of Northeast, Louisiana. Mike has one daughter, Lindsay and son-in-law Jeff Cobb. Mike has two grandsons and a granddaughter. Connor Michael Cobb, Oliver Allen Cobb & Sophie Lewis. He is married to Dawne Smith Walsworth, together they have four sons Chris, Zach, Kayden and Corbin.
Mike is a graduate of Leadership Ouachita and Leadership Louisiana. He is active in a number of organizations. Mike is a member of the Jackson Street Church of Christ, where he serves as a song leader. Mike is also a graduate of Northeast Louisiana University.
Senator Mike Walsworth starts his 19th year in the Legislature. He is one of the longest serving members of our area delegation. He believes it is his obligation to serve our entire region and state.
Senator Walsworth was first elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1995 and re-elected in 1999 and 2003. He was first elected to the Louisiana Senate in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. He serves as Chairman of the Environmental Quality Committee, Vice-Chair of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. He continues to serve on the Select Committee on Homeland Security. He also serves on the Education Committee and the Joint Committee on the Budget for his 7th year. He is Chairman of the Legislative Audit Advisory Council and an interim member of Senate Finance Committee. Mike is a past Chairman of the Republican Legislative Delegation. Senator Walsworth has won several legislative honors for his pro-business and anti-tax support.
Adam Putnam is Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture. In this role, he oversees the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and serves as a member of the Cabinet, alongside the Governor, Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer.
As Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam is focused on fostering economic prosperity, increasing access to locally grown products, honoring our nation's veterans and addressing the challenges that face the state’s water supply.
Adam has opened new markets for Florida’s 300 commodities both at home and abroad through advertising, retail partnerships and international outreach. As a result of his efforts, Florida agriculture is stronger than ever. Since 2011, exports of Florida agricultural products have grown by nearly $1 billion, a 30 percent increase. In the last three years, the growth of Florida agriculture created 25,000 new jobs and yielded an additional $88 million in indirect tax revenues.
Recognizing the impact of nutrition on students’ academic performance, Adam has worked to improve the nutritional value of school meals. He connected schools with local farms so they could access fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at affordable prices.
Adam has worked with the Florida Legislature to develop and implement policies toward securing a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy. His proposals have expanded production of energy and increased efficiency of energy use, resulting in economic growth and new jobs for Floridians.
In 2011, Adam established Operation Outdoor Freedom, which provides wounded veterans with unique opportunities for recreation and rehabilitation on state forests, private ranches and other lands. Hundreds of disabled veterans have participated in hunting, fishing and other activities since the program began. For some of these heroes, it was the first time they were able to enjoy the outdoors since returning home from duty.
Adam condemned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) burdensome regulations on Florida’s water resources, which would have cost Floridians billions to implement and yielded little, if any, positive measurable impact on the health of Florida’s waters. Instead, Adam insisted Florida should manage the health of its own waters, and the EPA eventually withdrew its unnecessary regulations.
Prior to being elected Commissioner of Agriculture in 2010, Adam served ten years as a U.S. Congressman, representing the 12th district of Florida. Known as a strong, conservative voice, Adam was elected by his peers to represent all Republican members of the House of Representatives as Chairman of the House Republican Conference, the third highest ranking position in Congress and the highest level position held by any Floridian in Congress. In this role, he championed legislation that would promote American prosperity by reducing taxes and growing businesses.
Before joining Congress, Adam served as member of the Florida House of Representatives, first elected at the age of 22. Adam was appointed Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, where he provided leadership on the many issues facing Florida’s dynamic agriculture industry, including property rights, water and the Everglades.
Though Adam has held various titles during his career, his friends and family know Adam as a Floridian first. His knowledge of and love for the state of Florida explain why he has dedicated his life to public service.
Adam is a fifth generation cattle rancher and citrus grower from Polk County. He is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Resource Economics.
Adam considers his most important titles to be husband and father. He and his wife, Melissa, have four children and live in Bartow.
Joe Negron is a shareholder in Gunster’s West Palm Beach and Stuart offices. Joe’s litigation practice includes the defense of commercial law claims involving millions of dollars at stake.
In his third decade of practice, Joe’s business litigation experience includes claims involving contract law, real estate and construction matters (including construction lien litigation), and insurance coverage. Of particular note, Joe defends litigation claims involving nautical and maritime law matters. He has also represented both for-profit and non-profit corporate directors and officers sued for breach of fiduciary duty.
Joe strives to protect the interests and bottom line of his clients at every stage of the dispute resolution and litigation process. He is personally dedicated to being both responsive and consistently accessible. Joe’s innate attention to detail and broader focus on the “big picture” of a dispute allow him to distill even the most complex legal issues and facts into an understandable story, persuasive narrative and comprehensive defense.
In addition to his litigation practice, Joe currently serves as a Florida State Senator. He was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000 and served until 2006. In 2009, Joe was elected to the Florida Senate, representing communities in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.
Glenda Ritz was elected the 43rd Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012. Superintendent Ritz leads the Indiana Department of Education with over 230 dedicated professionals serving our schools and communities in all 92 counties. The department distributes over $8 billion dollars each year of state and federal funds to educate approximately one million students in more than 2000 schools. Superintendent Ritz is dedicated to working with educators, families, policy makers, business leaders, and community-based organizations to achieve the Department of Education’s mission of building an education system of equity and high quality that is focused on student-centered accountability.
During her first year as Superintendent, Glenda Ritz launched the new Outreach Division of School Improvement. This new school improvement division is comprised of experienced educators that serve as coordinators in nine regions throughout the state of Indiana to provide a grassroots level of support for Indiana schools. This unique support system of working with school leaders and educators resulted in the transformation of 103 D or F public schools into A, B, or C public schools in a single year and moved over 60,000 children into better schools through significant improvement in student learning.
Superintendent Ritz also partnered with over 260 partners throughout the state, including the Indiana National Guard, to launch the Hoosier Family of Readers. What began as a summer program to encourage reading among K-12 students has now expanded to a year-round literacy initiative for students and families. Students read more than 61,000 books in the summer of 2013 and more than 78,000 books in the summer of 2014.
Glenda Ritz has been an educator since 1978, and until her election in 2012 as the Superintendent of Public Instruction, she served as a Library Media Specialist at Crooked Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is one of 168 National Board Certified Teachers in Indiana, and she holds two masters degrees with licenses to teach elementary, middle and high school in the areas of special education, general education, and library science.