UNCW’s Johnson, Puente Winners of a 2016 Health Care Heroes Award

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dan Johnson, associate professor in recreation therapy, and Antonio Puente, psychology professor, were each named a 2016 “Heath Care Hero,” an honor bestowed through an award program that recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to the quality of health care in Wilmington.

The program is sponsored by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, and awards were formally presented on Nov. 12 after a panel of judges reviewed nominations and selected a winner in each of the 10 categories.

“We’re extremely proud of both Dan and Tony for their numerous accomplishments in their respective fields, at UNCW and in the community,” said UNCW provost Marilyn Sheerer.

Johnson was honored in the category of Community Outreach for his involvement with the Miracle League of Wilmington. In 2008, he founded the nonprofit Accessible Coastal Carolina Events and Sports Services (ACCESS) of Wilmington, which spearheaded construction of the Miracle Field and playground at Olsen Park, in partnership with the national Miracle League.

The league is dedicated to providing children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to play sports. The 33,000-square-foot Miracle Field allows UNCW students to volunteer and gain valuable service experience working with children and adults with disabilities.

“Dan’s passion for his chosen field of recreation therapy extends far beyond the UNCW campus. He has been instrumental in bringing accessible recreation and sports to the greater Wilmington community,” wrote Charles Hardy, dean of the UNCW College of Health and Human Services, in his nomination of Johnson.

Puente took honors in the Community Achievement category for his work in clinical neuropsychology. He has taught at UNCW since 1981. In addition, Puente maintains a private practice in clinical neuropsychology. He is the founder and co-director of mental health services at the Cape Fear Clinic, a bilingual health center serving the poor and uninsured. Puente was the founding director of UNCW Centro Hispano and is president-elect of the American Psychological Association.

George Clarke, one of Puente’s former patients, wrote in his nomination, As an executive, national leader, health innovator, professional and volunteer, Dr. Puente exemplifies the best of what health care professionals can aspire to be.”

--Caroline Cropp