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Celebrating our Community Heroes

Vote for your favorite local hero to receive a trip to Africa.

This summer, African Travel is focused on expressing gratitude. We are forever grateful for the travel community who touch our lives daily and all heroes who help others. We have much to be thankful for and want to recognize those who are making a difference.

We turned to our trusted partners and asked advisors to nominate a hero who has made a positive impact during this unprecedented time.

From silent heroes helping those in need to nurses and firefighters keeping people safe, the submissions received were impressive. We’ve selected the Top 10 and now it is your turn to help name a hero to receive a life-changing trip to South Africa and Botswana.

Read about the heroes, see advisor's submissions and then vote on your favorite.

Votes are limited to one vote per person.   Votes must be submitted by July 31, 2020. Final results will be revealed here and our social channel at the end of August. 


HERO: Cindy Cosenzo, Community Leader
NOMINATED BY: Lisa Genis, AAA Travel Oregon

Cindy has taken the initiative to help support senior citizens and the small business community. To help seniors, she formed a group that goes on walks around the community, getting seniors outside and moving and teaching them about why their community is great. Cindy has donated more than $13,000 to local bakeries, food pantries, toy shops, artists and medical centers to help support small business and to help give back to essential workers. READ MORE

HERO: Frank Venuto, Lieutenant Firefighter/Paramedic
NOMINATED BY: Josefina Genao, Cruise and Tours Unlimited

Frank wanted to be a silent hero while working as a Hazmat Lieutenant with Miami Dade Fire Department, and currently handles all Covid-19 related calls. He helped many cruise passengers who were stranded on COVID-infected ships. As a military veteran from Desert Storm, he spends his free time volunteering in food banks, cooking and delivering food to the elderly, and visiting low income homes to help residents with painting and small home repairs. READ MORE

HERO: Keith VanBrunt, Emergency Flight Nurse
NOMINATED BY: Robin Barfield, Cruise Planners

Keith is an emergency flight nurse in Worland, Wyoming. During the Covid-19 pandemic he was asked to travel to New Mexico to assist the Navajo Nation with their healthcare needs. He worked tirelessly, taking care of people that were extremely vulnerable and high risk in many cases without sleep. He and the team provided much needed relief to the Navajo people who were dying in masse. READ MORE

HERO: Lisa Sweet, Registered Nurse, Director / Co-Founder of Sweet Beginnings Family Resources Center
NOMONATED BY: Roberta Christman,  AAA Travel Mountainwest

Lisa runs an adoption service and liaises with a local family resource center to help families obtain diapers and other essential baby products. She found that “diaper need” affects 1 in 3 families. Since COVID-19, Lisa has engaged with 25 community partners to reach more families. Lisa’s non-profit also provides feminine hygiene products to middle and high schools, the homeless, and shelters. READ MORE

HERO: Jeffrey Nietupski, Provided essentials for those in need
NOMINATED BY: Kristy Durso, Cruise and Tours Unlimited

Every week since the pandemic began, Jeff has worked tirelessly to provide food and clothing for those who lost their jobs. After weeks of job shortages, Jeff pulled together the entire community to organize a massive job fair for those that were unemployed. His tireless work of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor during this pandemic has made him a frontline worker nonetheless. READ MORE

HERO: Rodney Smith Jr.
NOMINATED BY: Shara Jones, Archer Travel Service

Rodney started a group called Raising Men Lawn Care and the 50-Yard Challenge to help today’s youth be upstanding adults for tomorrow. What started as a challenge for young men quickly became accepted by young women. Youth in all 50 states and several countries mow lawns and do yard work free of charge for the elderly, disabled, single mothers and veterans. When they complete the challenge, they are awarded with new mower equipment to continue their lawn care efforts and start a business if they choose.   READ MORE  |  VIEW VIDEO

HERO: Colin Jorgensen, MD Emergency Resident Chicago
NOMINATED BY: Karen Henderson, Largay Travel

Colin is currently a second year ER resident working in downtown Chicago. He was working in the ICU when COVID-19 made its way to Chicago and overwhelmed his hospital, taking up all open hospital beds. On average, Colin works around 80 hours every week. He continues to go to work even when half of his resident class has already caught COVID-19. He has been using his own phone to allow patients to say goodbye to their loved ones over Skype, as no one else is allowed in the hospital room.  READ MORE

HERO: Misty White, Nurse 
NOMINATED BY: Amber Hernandez, Dream Vacations

A nurse for 17 years, Misty works in the ER, ICU, Labor and Delivery, and Post-Partum units. Currently she is a labor and delivery nurse helping COVID-19 and non-COVID19 mothers deliver their babies. She is a charge nurse and trains new nurses in how to deliver babies safely during COVID-19. Her skills are highly sought after and she is currently working at two hospitals. Her professionalism and utmost care of her patients have helped mothers deliver their babies safely in this COVID-19 world.

HERO: Matthew Williams, Community Organizer
NOMINATED BY: Jessica Feehan, AAA Auto Club

Matthew is an inspirational community leader who devotes countless unpaid hours to organizing and leading the movement for racial equality in his community. He's created jobs by recruiting employees from his hometown in Amityville, New York and pays forward every kindness he receives.  READ MORE

HERO: Monica Wahler, Director of Human Resources
NOMINATED BY: Sheila Cannon, Palm Coast Travel

Monica is the director of Human Resources at a high school. She is described by many as an incredible worker, doing important tasks that go beyond her job duties. Since COVID-19, she took the initiative to make sure that bathrooms were always stocked with toilet paper and that classrooms had plenty of disinfectant products. When hand sanitizer became impossible to get, she stayed overtime making her own from alcohol so classrooms could remain supplied.  READ MORE


African Travel will reward the hero and their guest with the ultimate 8-night private escape to Cape Town, South Africa and Botswana, where they can relax and disconnect at Chobe Game Lodge (or equivalent) and Red Carnation’s Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa and Xigera Safari Lodge.

The advisor who nominated our winning ‘hero’ will be rewarded with a complimentary spot on an African Travel educational trip to South Africa, Tanzania or Kenya.  


The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa


This award-winning hotel featured in our South Africa Tapestry is poised above the Atlantic Ocean and nestled against the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range is the ultimate retreat from the bustle of Cape Town. The sundowners from the Leopard Bar deck are infamous as well as the stunning food at the Azure Restaurant. You may not want to leave the private cinema, rock pool or infinity pool overlooking the ocean or award-winning spa to explore the nearby winelands, Cape Peninsula, city and Table Mountain. It’s the perfect way to start an African adventure.

Chobe Game Lodge

Start your Botswana adventure on the banks of the majestic Chobe River within the famous Chobe National Park. Botswana is the gold standard for sustainable ecotourism and this elegant safari lodge that is a popular add-on to our Botswana trips places you in the heart of Africa’s largest herds of elephant and buffalo that gather in the park. Views from the expansive viewing decks and boardwalks and the land and water safaris give a different perspective on the wildlife-rich area.


Xigera Safari Lodge

Featured in The Ultimate Botswana Luxury Safari, Xigera Safari Lodge is an enchanting safari lodge set to open later this year in the Moremi Game Reserve in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Be prepared to step out of the ordinary into this ultimate bush experience which focuses on attention to detail and offers the ultimate in flexibility. The meticulously designed lodge floats above the water. The 105 exceptional staff attends to a maximum of 24 guest’s every need whether its floating in a glass bottom mokoro, a walk on the wild side, a helicopter flight over the delta, or a feet in the water sundowner.

Standard terms:

  • Open to US and Canada residents only
  • Nominations must be received no later than 11:59PM PST, June 30, 2020
  • Top 10 honorees will be selected by the African Travel Executive team, completely at their discretion, and notified the week of July 13, 2020 (formerly by July 8, 2020)
  • The Top 10 honorees will be featured in an online poll with voting from July 16 to July 31 at 11:59 PM PST (formerly July 13 at 6:00AM PST to July 23 at 11:59 PM PST). Votes are limited to one unique vote per person.
  • A winner will be selected based on the online votes by the public and the African Travel Executive team and notified by the end of August (formerly July 27, 2020)
  • The Grand Prize winner will receive for themselves and (1) guest, economy intra-Africa flights, 2 nights at Chobe Game Lodge, 4 nights at Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa and 2-nights at Xigera Safari Lodge, including transfers, select sightseeing, safari lodge meals, local brand drinks and activities
  • The nominating advisor will receive (1) 2021 educational trip to Southern or East Africa includes 7 to 9 nights hotel and lodge accommodations, intra-Africa transfers and select safari and group experiences
  • Both the Grand Prize and Advisor Educational trip are not redeemable for cash and are not transferrable
  • If necessary, complimentary Grand Prize stay can be cancelled and rebooked on a new date by the end of 2021
  • Booking can be made at any time, subject to restrictions and availability
  • Grand Prize and Advisor Educational Trip International Airline tickets and additional land/hotel stays are available for additional charges; standard penalties apply to these additions
  • For complete contest terms & conditions, CLICK HERE


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