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2nd Annual Tabor Award goes to longtime Cape philanthropist

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

Elmer Tabor got down on his knees next to Paul Sanborn to prove a point about the man he called his mentor and friend; Sanborn has known Tabor since he was 7 years old, when the top of his head reached no higher than Sanborn’s waist.

Tabor was honoring Sanborn as the recipient of the Cape Coral Community Foundation’s 2nd Annual Tabor Award, given to the year’s outstanding Cape philanthropist.

As the 2008 winner, Sanborn was honored for the 47 years of work he has put into making the Cape a thriving and vibrant community.

“He made something happen in Cape Coral when there was nothing,” Tabor told the crowd Wednesday at the Palmetto Pines Golf Club. “He’s responsible for the quality of life we have all come to know and to love.”

It was all part of the CCCF’s annual meeting, during which the longtime Cape foundation hands out grants to local non-profits from both sides of the bridge.

This year more than 50 non-profits were honored with grants. CCCF officials said this year’s grant award process was particularly difficult because of the economic downturn hitting non-profits especially hard.

“This was a most difficult year because the need was so great. But we made a decision early not to fund capital improvement projects, instead focusing only on human need,” said Pastor Timothy Halverson, grant committee chair.

Yet, as Sanborn’s name was called and a standing ovation filled the room, for one moment all thoughts of an economic downturn flitted away as attendees honored not only the man, but the history of a community they all love so dearly.

Sanborn took it in stride, offering jokes, anecdotes and bits of history to demonstrate just how far the community and the community foundation has come.

From banks to community organizations, to sitting on hospital boards and mosquito control districts, to starting the first church and first high school, Paul Sanborn has seen it all.

“I said, ‘Why me?’ There are so many people in this community who give every day … well, I guess I gave a bit,” Sanborn joked. “To have this honor, it’s tremendous, fantastic. But to have it with Elmer’s name on it … it’s awesome.”

The award, which bares Tabor’s namesake, started last year when he was the first recipient.

The award acts as a mirror of sorts for Tabor’s personal philosophy, which is to leave the Cape a better place then when he found it. And more than anything, he learned that guiding principal from Sanborn.

“This award isn’t for somebody who writes a check,” Tabor mused. “This is for someone who donates a life.”