By Kathy Collins

Each year the Community Roundtable of Brandon sponsors the Father of the Year essay contest. The 2016 Father of the Year is Jim Clark of Brandon. Clark’s daughter, Lily, wrote the winning essay. Lily was in fifth grade at Symmes Elementary School at the time. She will attend Progress Village Middle School this fall.

Lily’s essay explained why her father is her hero. Lily wrote, “When I was eight months old, my dad saved a puppy. He found her on the side of the road, injured. He took her to the vet. The doctor said they would do surgery, but she would need an owner or they would put her down. He took her in.”

Jim said, “Lily kept this a complete secret because at first it was just another challenging writing assignment, the likes of which she always steps up to. She competed for her school in the Tropicana Speech Competition because she just wanted to try.” Jim added, “When she won, she still kept it a secret. She hoped to hold out until Father’s Day, but she was just two days shy. When she told me about her accomplishment, I was thrilled about her initiative and accomplishment.”

Lily said, “I entered the contest because I have always been so proud of him for saving our dog, and giving me an adopted sister. Also, I thought it would be so cool if my dad and I could be in a parade together.”

Jim added, “This whole experience has filled Lily with so much positive emotion.”

The winner of the Father of the Year contest is bestowed with numerous gifts including a round of golf at Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club in Valrico.

The Father of the Year contest essays are judged by members of the Community Roundtable for originality and content. Second place in the Annual Father of the Year contest went to Maya Tedford from FishHawk Creek Elementary School and her dad, David. Third place was awarded to Khai Jackson- Mitchell of Brandon Academy and dad, Tony Lawrence.

For over 50 years, the Community Roundtable has supported the community and holds a variety of events throughout the year including the Father of the Year contest and the 4th of July Parade, the largest one in the state of Florida.

For more information on the Community Roundtable, visit

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