Thomas Martinko, M.D., hosts successful Black History Month Contest

When Thomas Martinko, M.D., joined the University of Florida faculty last August he brought more with him than just his medical expertise. Luckily, his sense of community and advancing youth followed him to Gainesville as well.

A perfect example of Dr. Martinko’s commitment to the community and his patients is his recent Black History Month Contest. He distributed a quiz, featuring 20 questions about significant African-American figures, to patients of his Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic throughout February. Patients were encouraged to research the answers and learn about the rich history that’s celebrated each February.

“They’re personal heroes of mine,” said Dr. Martinko of the variety of historical figures in the quiz, spanning athletics, science, politics and inventors, to name a few.

While the quiz has been conducted in all of Dr. Martinko’s past practices, the response he received this year was by far the best, nearly tripling the previous highest number of winners. This year there were 54 entries, 11 of which scored 100 percent making them a winning submission.

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Dr. Martinko with several of the Black History Month Contest Winners.

Winners were recognized on March 6 at the CMS building where the clinic is hosted. Dr. Martinko purchased and donated all of the age-appropriate prizes, ranging from a tablet and unicycle to DVD players and outdoor sports equipment. The prizes were distributed in fairness by placing all of the winners’ names in a bag and selecting them randomly.  The person whose name was chosen first got the first pick of the prizes.

One of the winners, Jessica Johnson, who was suffering from a concussion when she completed her quiz said, “Some of the questions were confusing and it was hard to pick between two people.” However, through the use of various internet search engines and American History books she was able to complete the project and answer all of the questions correctly. She won a Kindle, which she was excited to put to good use to help increase her reading level.

This will be an annual event, and the winners are looking forward to competing again next year.

“All of these historical figures made important advances, regardless of race,” said Dr. Martinko in closing. “It was a lot of fun for me and hopefully the children learned something from this exercise, fulfilling its main purpose.”