Fortune Magazine finds heroes in Tampa Bay

By Trevor Pettiford, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

This summer, Fortune Magazine scoured the 500 biggest companies to honor 55 people who do extraordinary work outside of the corporate world to help people.

And four of them came from right here in Tampa Bay.

Alicia Smith of Clearwater works at Tech Data by day, but spends her free time developing Canine Care Tampa Bay. It’s a nonprofit she created to help pay veterinarian bills to keep pets and their owners together through hard times.

"My goal is to, during those times, provide the help for people who want for their pets the healthcare they need," Smith said.

Since 2013, Canine Care Tampa Bay has helped nearly 200 dogs and cats and their owners.

Another honoree, Kelly McDonald of Largo, regularly exchanges her desk job at Raytheon for two wheels and a helmet. She works with Ride2Recovery, a program for disabled veterans.

McDonald said one of her most remarkable experiences is working with Army vet Kathy Champion, who was blinded in a bombing attack.

"She was visibly shut down, dark, angry," McDonald said of Kathy.

But with time came changes.

"Through the riding experience, I became happier and happier, and happier, and became more myself," said Champion.

Joe Clement and Noel Keesling of Clearwater round out the four Tampa Bay residents in the Heroes of the Fortune 500.

In addition to being co-workers at UPS and best friends, Joe donated a kidney to Noel.

None of these people like being called heroes because they say what they do, we’re all capable of doing.

"Anybody can do what I've done," McDonald said. "If you're willing to just try."