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Posted on: November 12, 2021

Light-Up! Night honorees named for 28th annual Nights of Lights

Fab 5 physicians, Jennifer Willis, christmas tree

Local healthcare heroes recognized for humility, dedication, and compassion


In 2003, then Mayor George Gardner started a tradition in which honorees were selected to turn the switches to “light up” the holiday tree and the canopy of oak trees in the Plaza de la Constitución.  This was the first official Light-Up! Night and it has continued every year since then, except for 2020, when the popular lighting ceremony was cancelled due to COVID-19.

This year, the City of St. Augustine is proud to announce the return of the Light-Up! Night ceremony and this year’s “healthcare hero” honorees selected by Mayor Tracy Upchurch. 

To turn the big switch to light the city, Mayor Upchurch has selected Dr. Javier Aduen.  Aduen, a Critical Care physician, leads the intensive care provider group at Flagler Hospital.  With the dedicated staff at Flagler Health+, alongside a group of four other physicians affectionately referred to as “The Fab Five,” he and his team rotated call every day and night, working tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, treating critically ill patients and saving hundreds of lives.  Dr. Aduen will be joined by several colleagues from Flagler Health+, Dr. Brian Kiekover, Dr. Jerome Truitt, and Dr. Vivek Manikal.

“The demands of adapting to so much new and overwhelming amounts of information while providing guidance and support to achieve the best outcomes for patients with COVID-19 in a fluid and unpredictable environment is something to be commended,” remarked Mayor Upchurch.  “Dr. Aduen is known among his peers and his patients for his humility, dedication and caring and is truly a Healthcare Hero.  It is my distinct pleasure to invite Dr. Aduen and his team to share in this honor.” 

Turning the switch to light the city’s tree will be Jennifer Wills, Program Coordinator for Care Connect+, the social health organization of Flagler Health+.  In this role, Jennifer works to ensure that social determinants of health, such as housing, transportation, food adequacy, medications and other related services are met to help support the health and wellbeing of all people, regardless of their circumstances.  Social health needs skyrocketed during COVID-19 as many people found themselves out of work and facing other challenges.

“Jennifer and her team at Care Connect+ rose to this unprecedented challenge, working around-the-clock to ensure that no one’s needs were left unmet,” Mayor Upchurch said.  “From coordinating a COVID-19 follow-up call center with scores of volunteers, home food delivery for people isolating at home through a partnership with Epic Cure, to getting rent and utility bill-pay assistance and mental health services for those in need, Jennifer gave hope to many who felt completely hopeless.”  Wills will be accompanied by her Care Connect+ team member and Community Health Social Worker, Eric Powell.

In selecting the honorees for this year’s Light-Up! Night, Mayor Upchurch considered those in our community who represent strength and compassion, humility and hope, and have demonstrated the very best in selfless service to our community in our most urgent time of need.

"It is important to recognize not just the individuals, but the teams of people who, together throughout the pandemic, worked tirelessly to not only save lives, but to improve the lives of others right here in this community," said Upchurch. "We all have been impacted one way or another in the past 20 months, and our honorees represent those who go above and beyond, to aid and assist those most in need, not just because it’s their job, but because they feel it is their calling to do so."

Light-Up! Night is Saturday, November 20 with the lighting ceremony scheduled for 6:30pm in the Plaza de la Constitución. 

In the event of any changes in the program, updates will be posted on the City's website and on the City of St. Augustine Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/CityStAug.

Traffic updates and road closures will be posted on the St. Augustine Police Department Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/StAugPD.

Media inquiries may be directed to Melissa Wissel, Communications Director, at 904.293.3307 or via email.

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Photo 1: “Fab Five Physicians” (L to R): Dr. Todd Battenhorst, Dr. Javier Aduen, Dr. Jerome Truitt, Dr. Brian Kiekover, and Dr. Vivek Manikal.  

Photo 2: Jennifer Wills, Program Coordinator, Care Connect+

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