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Headliners: People who people are talking about.

Growing up, Mickey Presha, now 57, spent his summers as a migrant laborer, picking tomatoes and potatoes with his family along the Eastern Seaboard. He remembers living in migrant camps in shanties with no running water. He also remembers his mother's determination to force her children to go to college. Presha did go to college, earning a B.A. in biology and a master's in public administration, and going on to become a highly decorated career officer in the U.S. Army. Today, as the candid and persuasive president and CEO of Manatee County Rural Health Services, Inc., he's one of the most influential citizens in Manatee County.

Because of Presha, Manatee County Rural Health Services, Inc.--the largest primary care practice in the county with 17 doctors, two dentists and 20 nurses and assistants in state-of-the-art facilities--is a national model for providing top-quality health care to the poor, many of them migrants. Presha, who sees his mission as serving "people who've never had a fair shake in life," insists that everyone, regardless of income, deserves to receive the best health care available. "There's nothing worse than people mistreating others," he says.

Even the poorest people need not fear that at his clinic, where workers are likely to tell apprehensive patients, "Our boss is a former migrant. You'll be treated well here."

Over the decades, Bradenton's South Florida Museum had become a hit musty. Sure, lovable Snooty the manatee always gave visitors a thrill and Bishop Planetarium offered mesnierizing laser star shows, but the Florida history part of the museum was--well, boring.

All that's changed with the ongoing $5-million renovation of the museum, and the arrival of Suzanne White, its ultra-organized curator of collections.

Suzanne, a longtime Manatee County resident, is really the museums first trained collections manager. An artist as well, she initially assumed she'd work at an art museum. But once she saw South Florida Museum's three storage rooms filled to the brim, "I was hopelessly hooked," she says.

Suzanne has been wading through the 15,000 objects--some surprisingly rare and valuable--that have been languishing "for 53 years on shelves and in boxes." She's been bringing in experts to authenticate and describe the collection. She's created fresh exhibitions so visitors will see something new every six weeks. And she's been instrumental in new acquisitions like the fabulous mastodon skeleton from Florida's Pleistocene period that greets visitors as they enter the new Great Hall. "People don't realize it, but this is a major museum with an incredible collection," she says.

When rising American tennis pro Hugo Armando trailed after his sister to play tennis as a kid, he didn't imagine he would ever challenge some of the sport's most famous stars. But when Nick Bollettieri saw 11-year-old Hugo on the court, he was impressed enough to offer him a scholarship to his renowned sports academy. The Armando family made Bradenton their home and the launching pad for Hugo's career.

Energetic "Hurricane" Hugo--a nickname that stuck thanks to a journalist's whim--delivers superstar action minus us ego. The six-foot-tall, 23-year-old Miami native, tanked 115th in the world, recently defeated former world No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov. His excellent groundstrokes and heavy ball earned him a wild card to play in the 2001 U.S. Open, where he faced Wimbledon champ Goran Ivanisevic in a high-pressure encounter Hugo d scribes as "fun" and "exciting." Off the court, Hugo is easygoing and well-grounded, a soccer fan who enjoys golfing and fishing, too.

At a recent tournament in Ecuador, Hugo broke with tradition by practicing and dining with the player who would be his opponent in the next morning's final. His unconventional behavior didn't hurt his game. He won the tournament.
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Author:Burns, Susan; Aragon, Alba F.
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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