AANA Foundation

Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year Award 

Rita L. LeBlancThe Philanthropist of the Year Award, established in 2006 by the AANA Foundation, is presented to an individual who represents the spirit of Ms. LeBlanc and has gone beyond the call of duty as a supporter of the AANA Foundation. The Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year donates time, talent, and direct financial support to the AANA Foundation, as well as other well-deserving organizations.  The recipient of this award demonstrates a strong philanthropic spirit, and through his or her charitable actions motivates others to give of themselves.

2017 Award 

The Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year Award represents the spirit of Ms. LeBlanc and is presentedJohn Bendele to an individual who has gone beyond the call of duty as a supporter of the AANA Foundation and other philanthropic organizations. The recipient of the 2017 Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year Award is John Bendele, Jr., MS, CRNA. Bendele began his career on a four year tour as a US Navy corpsman, operating room technician and instructor. Within this time he was selected for the Navy Nurse Anesthesia Program. As a navy CRNA, John was also stationed in USS Enterprise, CVN-65, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland; Naval Hospital, Guantanamo, Bay, Cuba; and Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington. As the sole anesthesia provider at Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, John also provided anesthesia for the US Army veterinarian, caring for military dogs and base pets. After retiring in 1990, John worked in an all-CRNA group at VAMC, Cincinnati, Clermont Mercy Hospital, and Good Samaritan Hospital. He then took part in the first of six OP-Smile missions, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Vietnam and Gaza. With Health Volunteers Overseas, John has taught nurse anesthesia in two programs in Belize on five different occasions. John's passion as a Navy CRNA and an overseas volunteer anesthesia provider exemplifies his true dedication to giving to others beyond his generosity to the AANA Foundation. John's life and choices to give to others make him an extraordinary recipient of this award. 

Previous Philanthropists of the Year

  • 2006 - Rita L. LeBlanc, CRNA
  • 2007 - Mary G. Dudley, MS, CRNA
  • 2008 - Suzanne Brown, BSN, CRNA
  • 2009 - Theresa Culpepper, PhD, CRNA
  • 2010 - Patrick Downey, CRNA
  • 2010 - Joyce Kelly, EdD, CRNA
  • 2011 - Alverna Skoog, BS, CRNA
  • 2012 - Goldie Brangman, CRNA
  • 2013 - Sandra Kilde, EdD, CRNA
  • 2014 - Col. Gina M. Mason, CRNA, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.)
  • 2015 - Elizabeth “Betty” Abrams, MS, CRNA
  • 2016 - John T. "Jack" Hitchens, BA, CRNA

Application materials for the Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year Award.