TAMPA, Fla. — The unsung heroes of the Bay Area community are playing a vital role in making our community a better place.

They're our "Everyday Heroes," and every year, Spectrum Bay News 9 makes sure to celebrate these extraordinary people.

Dozens of our 2018 Everyday Heroes, their friends, family, and loved ones joined us at Pepin's Hospitality Center in Tampa for our annual 'Salute to Everyday Heroes' luncheon. 

"We always look forward to watching our Hero of the Day. You all have not only made an impact in our community, but to us as well. Often times, the news can be filled with difficult stories to tell. So, we thank you for being a bright spot in our day," said morning news anchor Erica Riggins.

Seven of our Everyday Heroes went home with awards to celebrate their positive contributions to world.

One of the special awards is chosen by you -- the viewer. Many of you voted online and helped us pick your favorite unsung story for our Everyday Hero "Viewer's Choice Award."

Here are all the winners of our Everyday Hero awards:

  • Viewer's Choice Award: Andy Kline
    • Almost 20 years ago, Andy Kline and his wife Brenda founded the non-profit Odessa Wildlife Rescue and Sanctuary — giving unwanted animals a forever home. 
  • Young Hero of the Year: Jacob Turner
    • Jacob Turner took it upon himself to show our local law enforcement how much they're appreciated — in his own creative way! Jacob and his father have been making American flags out of woodwork since 2017.
  • Volunteer Hero of the Year: Edward Myles
    • Edward Myles took it upon himself, and even used a lot of his own money, to help feed those in need — one sandwich and snack at a time.  Myles is the founder of a non-profit organization called "Let's Feed Folks."
  • Health Advocate Hero fo the Year: Dr. William Geyer
    • William Geyer not only treats people's teeth, he also makes sure animals maintain good dental health. And when we say animals, anything goes. Lions, tigers, bears, oh my! 
  • Public Service Hero of the Year: Jim McCook
    • Jim McCook took it upon himself to photograph shelter dogs, showcasing their personalities, and giving them a better chance at finding their forever home. 
  • Education Hero of the Year: Ellen Bernstein
    • Ellen Bernstein is a Holocaust survivor, and she shares her story to prevent future generations from ever forgetting the absence of humanity that was the Holocaust. 
    Hero of the Year: Kelvin Rackard
    • Kelvin Rackard, who is deaf, volunteers at the Homeless Empowerment Program in Clearwater where they provide meals, housing, and other services to individuals and veterans. Workers say Rackard is one of their secret gems on campus. 

You can catch an encore presentation of our 'Salute to Everyday Heroes' luncheon Sunday at 4 p.m.