Arnold Palmer is one of four inductees to be recognized on Friday, November 4th at the Wyndham Resort on International Drive for tourism leadership. Palmer has been known as one of the best sportsmen and businessmen in the world for nearly half a century. As a professional golfer, he has won 92 national and international championships, 62 of them on the PGA Tour, and seven majors led by four green jackets from The Masters. Palmer has had a lasting impact on the Central Florida community by lending his name to leading fundraising efforts that led to the creation of the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, which is comprised of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Chairman of the Arnold Palmer Group, Arnie has been equally successful and a champion in the corporate world.

The Dick Pope Awards acknowledge leadership that has significantly impacted the state as a premium destination for growth and development. Since Palmer’s move to Central Florida in the late 1960’s he successfully developed several business enterprises that helped sustain tourism and economic impact through sports initiatives. In 1969 he purchased Bay Hill Club & Lodge, the host course of Orlando’s premier annual PGA Tour event, The Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard. Based in Orlando as well, Arnold Palmer Enterprises is the umbrella corporation that oversees all of Arnie’s commercial ventures, including his worldwide licensing and endorsements. His connections to Orlando were further enhanced when he co-founded The Golf Channel in 1995. His most meaningful contribution has been the local impact he has made at the Arnold Palmer Medical Center through the philanthropy of the Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation.

Palmer joins inductees, John Hitt, University of Central Florida President, Chef Steve Jayson of Universal Orlando, and the late Gary Sain President of Visit Orlando. Their bronze likenesses will be immortalized on the new Dick Pope Hall of Fame wall being located within the newly renovated west wing of the Orange County Convention Center.

A representative of Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation is scheduled to speak on behalf of Mr. Palmer on November 4th. “It gives us great pleasure to have Mr. Palmer recognized for his significant impact on Florida’s golf industry and our community. Dick Pope is well-known for his commitment to community works and philanthropy and it is an honor for Mr. Palmer to be acknowledged and celebrated with an award that bears Mr. Pope’s name.”

The mission of the Grand Tour Gala Foundation is to raise and distribute funds to student scholarship foundations and to non-profit organizations purposed to provide educational programs and directly to students pursuing hospitality and tourism careers.

The Dick Pope Legacy Luncheon and Foodstock Orlando, a multi-day destination festival are special events currently in production under the direction of Dr. Mary Jo Ross, CSEP, CPCE. The hospitality industry driven events will increase the financial support necessary for the high demand of scholarships and grants within Florida’s hospitality education mecca. Attendees and corporate sponsors of the Dick Pope Legacy luncheon can register at

For more information on Foodstock Orlando go to

Click here to learn about previous inductees.

Hitt has been President of the University of Central Florida since 1992. Upon his arrival at UCF, the school was the fifth largest in Florida and 115th in the nation. Since then, UCF has grown to more than 60,000 students – triple the enrollment over the time of his appointment now making UCF ranked number two in the nation. Dr. Hitt has lead UCF in becoming a major metropolitan university of global impact and has launched more than $1 billion in new construction including the new expansion of its Downtown Orlando campus.

Jayson has been an integral part of the success of Universal Parks & Resorts since he began in 1989 as part of its inaugural opening team. As vice president, corporate executive chef for the Universal Parks and Resorts, Chef Jayson has delivered an incredible level of culinary expertise and service to Universal’s guests over the years in Orlando and around the world. He has also been recognized by his peers for his contributions to his profession; and has received more than 150 culinary awards from various organizations including being named National Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation in 2000.

Sain is a posthumous inductee into the Dick Pope Legacy Award Hall of Fame. Sain, who was President and CEO of Visit Orlando for nearly six years. During his tenure as chief of Visit Orlando, the city recorded a record 51.5 million visitors in 2010, becoming the first U.S. destination to break the 50-million visitor milestone. Sain served as one of the community’s brand ambassadors, working tirelessly on behalf of the city and its tourism industry. He had previously held executive positions with MMGY Global, Premier Cruise Line, Hyatt Hotels, Ritz-Carlton and other companies.

About Dick Pope:

Richard Downing Pope, Sr. died in 1988 but his legacy lives on. Better known as Dick Pope, he was the founder of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida. Known as “Mr. Florida”, Pope played a momentous role in the development of tourism in the state of Florida and the growth of its theme parks as tourist destinations.