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Kottkamps honored with Soaring Eagle Award by local club; Called ‘genuine, good’

By Staff | May 21, 2008

Adversity is a true test of leadership, and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp has shone through all of the rough patches in his life and emerged on top when things seemed bleakest, a large group of supporters acknowledged at a Tuesday evening dinner at Cape Coral’s Palmetto-Pine Country Club.

The Lee Republican Women’s Club presented the lieutenant governor and his wife, Cyndie, with the Soaring Eagle Award in recognition of living out the values of “outstanding Republicans.”

“These are people who make things happen, make positive things happen, for the state of Florida,” Sheriff Mike Scott told the crowd full of elected officials, county and city staff members and fellow Republicans.

Women’s club president Brenda Skupny said the award given to the Kottkamps stands “for the conservative principles and basic values that seem to be so dearly lacking in America today.”

“Jeff and Cyndie Kottkamp epitomize the American dream and the American family,” she added.

Other high ranking local Republican officials offered high praise for one of their own.

“Jeff Kottkamp walks with humility, he listens with compassion, he leads for the betterment of all and how proud we are to embrace him as one of our family,” said Lee County Republican Executive Committee chairman Gary Lee.

In a show of that humility, the lieutenant governor said he is undeserving of the award. Instead, Kottkamp credited his supporters in the audience for propelling him to the second highest position in the state and his leadership position in the party.

“It is incredibly humbling to be recognized at all because we figured we’re just doing what we ought to do and being who we are,” he said. “All of you in this room are the ones that stuffed the envelopes, put out the signs, made the phone calls. You are the ones who do it.”

Kottkamp, a North Fort Myers high school graduate, represented Cape Coral for several years in the state Legislature as he was elected to the District 74 slot in 2000. He was chosen as Gov. Charlie Crist’s running mate in 2006.

At the dinner and award presentation, Kottkamp also had plenty of praise for Cyndie, who organized a prayer group and stayed by his bedside while he was in a chemically induced coma for weeks on end in 2004 while dealing with pregnancy complications. He credited her and the prayer for saving his life.

“She is an amazing woman,” Kottkamp said. “The best thing I ever did in my life is get married to her.”

Longtime friend Amy McBreen-Babb said Cyndie always provided a shoulder to lean on, or to cry on, as the case may be. She also put a strong spiritual touch on every situation.

“She was always there to give me a perspective when I had a question or a problem,” McBreen-Babb said of her friend of 30 years. “She was always there with a positive spin.”

Skupny said the Kottkamps live out values that used to be common but are now a rarity, adding that building character “begins with the family” and starts with the way one lives out home life. More than simply dedicated to the lieutenant governor’s political accomplishments, much of the evening focused on the couple’s personal lives and their leadership by example.

“They are both genuine, good, humble, God-loving, family-loving people,” said McBreen-Babb.