published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Chamber taps Richardson for Citizen of the Year
ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Writer
The South Lake Chamber of Commerce named Dr. Dot Richardson as its Citizen of the Year at February's Chamber Breakfast after postponing the presentation because Richardson couldn't make the annual Chairman's Gala where the surprise was supposed to have been announced earlier.
Richardson, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in women's softball, was surprised because she had been tricked into believing she was going to the breakfast because her husband, Bob Pinto, had won some type of award.
Chamber Chair Robert Thompson's introduction must have served as the final tip-off that it was Richardson who was getting the award.
"In South Lake, this Citizen of the Year's impact in unparalleled. She has served as director and medical director at the National Training Center, which is home to dozens of the world's elite athletes. She founded a softball series that has attracted thousands of youth and adult athletes of the South Lake area resulting in millions of dollars to local businesses," Thompson told attendees. "She also is founder and commissioner of the ProFastpitch X-treme Tour and is active with her husband in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Softball Ministry, among many other endeavors."
Event Chair Michelle Michnoff went on to let attendees know that Richardson is also an author, TV commentator and motivational speaker around the world and in the South Lake community, where she visits many schools to talk with students.
"It was pretty funny how they made sure to get me here and that my husband was involved in all of this," Richardson said, adding that she was hard pressed in making it in considering the softball season starts at the NTC softball complex today, with a total of 232 teams, 1,100 games and a $10 million local economic impact expected within a five-week period.
"But I'm very honored to be thought of in this way and humbled to have received the award. My husband and I love Lake County and we love all the people that are here," she continued. "I'm also very excited to continue trying to make an impact on the community and a difference fro the people who live here."
Richardson, who was born and raised in Union Park in Orlando, started her college career at UCLA, went on to several other universities for her upper graduate studies and earned her medical degree, specializing in orthopedic sports medicine at the University of Louisville.
In the process, Richardson trained and competed in two Olympics, culminating in gold medal wins in softball.
In 1996, during the sport's debut in the Olympics, Richardson hit the winning home run for Team USA. Her athletic accomplishments earned her induction into many national halls of fame and election onto the President's Council of Physical fitness and Sports under former President George Bush's tenure and onto the Governor's Council of Physical Fitness under former Governor Charlie Christ.
Richardson and Pinto moved to Clermont in 2001 where she started her practice and where in 2002, she began her partnership with the NTC.
"My latest assignment with the NTC is being the director of NTC softball and I will continue to nurture the venture. It's huge already and growing fast. We're excited," Richardson said.
Chamber President Ray San Fratello called the Citizen of the Year award "the most prestigious and significant honor the Chamber recognizes," citing past recipients which include Shannon Elswick, former Chamber executive director, "Mr. Clermont" Oakley Seaver, former Lake County Woman of the Year Ann Dupee and last year's winners; Carlos and Sandy Solis.
"We're now adding another person to the list and is anyone demonstrates the philosophy of what it (the award) is all about, it's Dot Richardson," San Fratello said. "We're please we were able to surprise her and recognize her for all the great things she's done for South Lake County."