DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., -- The late Juanita “Lightnin” Epton, who worked in the Daytona International Speedway ticket office since the inaugural DAYTONA 500 back in 1959, and the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship were honored at the Florida Sports Foundation Summit held recently in Panama City Beach.

The awards were announced at the Larry Pendleton Awards Dinner, which recognizes the achievements of more than 30 industry partners statewide, and individuals within the partnerships, for their efforts over the previous year.

Epton, who recently passed away at the age of 103 on May 15, was a fixture in the Daytona International Speedway ticket office for six decades. She was posthumously honored with the 2024 Most Valuable Partner Award by the Florida Sports Foundation, which highlights a local partner and shows appreciation for their hard work in supporting sports tourism.

Varsity Spirit’s NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship, the single largest collegiate cheer and dance competition in the world, was honored for Florida’s Event of the Year in the Mid-Sized Market category. The competition has been staged at the Daytona Beach Bandshell and the Ocean Center since 1996 and hosted a record turnout of nearly 500 teams in the 2024 event.

“We are proud to be honored by the Florida Sports Foundation Summit for Florida’s Event of the Year,” said Bill Boggs, Senior Vice President and Director of College Programs for NCA & NDA. “The NCA & NDA Collegiate Championship continues to grow year after year and are excited to continue presenting a top-tier event that brings thousands of people to Florida and the Daytona Beach area. We sincerely appreciate all the tremendous support from our friends and partners in Daytona Beach and Volusia County for helping make our event so successful each year.”

Both nominations were submitted by the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

“Both the late Lightnin’ Epton and the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship have been synonymous with Daytona Beach area for decades,” said Lori Campbell Baker, the CVB’s Executive Director. “We’re pleased to see both receive recognition for their contributions to the destination.”

About the Daytona Beach Area | #LoveDaytonaBeach
Often called home of the world’s most famous beaches, Daytona Beach, Florida, continues to delight and surprise visitors with its diverse and growing array of attractions. The Daytona Beach area includes several cities and towns including Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Ponce Inlet, Holly Hill and South Daytona. The destination has long been known for its iconic beaches and rich auto racing history but today a slate of exciting new attractions, upscale lodging, a vibrant arts scene and an amazing collection of parks, preserves and outdoor activities are all part of Daytona Beach’s year-round appeal.

About the Florida Sports Foundation
Florida Sports Foundation, a 501(C) 3 non-profit corporation, is the official sports promotion and development organization for the State of Florida. It is charged with the promotion and development of professional, amateur, recreational sports, and physical fitness opportunities that produce a thriving Florida sports industry and environment. With a seemingly endless list of sporting ventures and venues, the Florida Sports Foundation strives to promote Florida’s unique sports industry. The Foundation’s staff is dedicated to serving the needs and interests of Florida’s sports community and assists with all questions concerning Florida sporting activities and issues.