Florida Realtors President Maria Wells poses with 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Tony Canizares following the awards luncheon at this year’s convention.
ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 28, 2017— Florida Realtors® has named Anthony “Tony” Canizares, a member of Greater Tampa Realtors®, as its 2017 Humanitarian of the Year, proving that Realtors make a difference in their communities. Why? He saved the life of his friend Gary Lopez.
Canizares first met Lopez when they both attended the University of South Florida; Lopez belonged to the same fraternity as Canizares’s brother. Over the years, they celebrated birthdays, enjoyed vacations, did business together and supported each other through hard times.
Diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 2001, Lopez managed the disease for years. However, by the fall of 2014, he was suffering kidney failure and in dire need of a new kidney. Canizares didn’t hesitate and offered to donate one of his own kidneys to save his friend’s life, without even knowing if he would be a match.
Miraculously, Canizares turned out to be a perfect match for Lopez – he was the right blood type, right age, height, weight and even the right kidney size match. It took a lot of testing, time and determination to get to a successful transplant, but the surgery was completed in July 2015.
With so much time spent away from his real estate office both before the surgery and afterwards in recovery, Canizares experienced some serious physical, financial and emotional setbacks. However, he and Lopez are both doing well now.
The awards were presented during the state association’s recent 101st annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.