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August 02, 2023 | FLORIDA DOREEN OVERSTREET, Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

Orlando, Fla. (August 1, 2023) – The Children’s Safety Village of Central Florida recently hosted its 6th Annual Community Heroes Celebration Awards Gala. The event consisted of celebrating those who continue to make the Central Florida area a safe community for children and families. 

The honorees included Firefighter Chris Martin of the Seminole County Fire Department who was honored with the “First Responder Award for Seminole County.” Martin was a former UCF Knight and NFL football player who chose to become a Seminole County firefighter after the tragic pool drowning of his two-year-old son Gunner on April 6, 2016. 

Chris along with his wife Christina founded The Gunner Martin Foundation to raise awareness and educate others on drowning prevention. The Foundation partners with Seminole County Government and the Seminole County Fire Department on drowning prevention initiatives, including distributing free door/pool alarms. For more information, visit 

“We are extremely thankful that our Seminole County Fire Department Firefighter Chris Martin and his wife Christina Martin both serve as strong advocates in our community to educate others about drowning prevention,” said Fire Chief Matt Kinley of the Seminole County Fire Department. “The Martin family have been through a tremendous amount of pain and loss, and in my opinion, he is the definition of brave and he is a true asset as a first responder.”

Martin graduated EMT/Fire school from Seminole State College in 2022 and resides in Orlando. 

Other award honorees included:

-Young Hero Award presented to Omari Griffin, Edgewater High School student who saved his brother after a shooting during a basketball game.

-The Safety Educator Award presented to Gina Thomas who founded the Goldfish Swim School and has provided swimming lesson to over 8,000 young swimmers.

-Central Florida Community Ambassador Award presented to Gary Cain, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida. He has worked to grow the organization from serving 2,750 children to more than 11,000 per year.

-First Responder Award for Orange County was presented to Deputy William Puzynski who saved a two-year-old child’s life from an apartment building fire.

-First Responder Award for Osceola County to Deputy Michael Cabassa, CSO Jessica Navy and CSO Supervisor Amaryllis Rivera. These first responders worked collectively to resuscitate an unconscious 16-year-old girl. 

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