At the end of January 2017, “Gazeta Krakowska” organized the plebiscite for the “Man of the Year”, but this year the event included a new title: “2016 Personality of the Year”, granted to persons who achieved a major success and served their local communities in a significant way. In the Tatra poviat, Rafał Sonik received the said title in the category “social and charity work”.
The “Personality of the Year” titles have been awarded for the first time in four categories: social and charity work, culture, local government and local society and business. The readers of “Gazeta Krakowska” selected winners separately in Kraków, Nowy Sącz, Tarnów, and in each of 19 poviats of the Małopolska Region.
‘We would like to award persons engaged in the lives of their communities, who facilitate their development – local heroes who are not commonly known,’ wrote Wojciech Harpula, editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Krakowska” in his paper. ‘Candidates for the “Personality of the Year” title were nominated by our journalists, who write about the lives and problems of the residents of the region, and by our Readers. They were the ones who selected the winners.
The ranks of the nominated persons in the Tatra poviat included Rafał Sonik. According to the organizers: “– a rally driver and a businessman, nominated for organising the annual “Clean Tatra Mountains(Czyste Tatry)” campaign.
Everybody knows that his activities in the Tatras is not limited to the “Clean Tatra Mountains” event, during which thousands of volunteers clean out mountain trails and try to change bad habits of tourists. This is 10 years of meetings at Kasprowy Wierch of skiers, mountain climbers, former and current employees of TPN, TOPR, and GOPR. Christmas Eve meetings at Teatr Witkacego for a group of seniors from Zakopane – former sportsmen and women, olympians, cultural and social activists.
‘The credit for the “Clean Tatra mountains” campaign goes not only to me, but first and foremost to the team representing the Czysta Polska Association that are engaged in the project. I’m talking about Weronika Rychlicka and Agata Sieprawska, who live through a few-days-long organisational marathon, which is preceded by months of preparations. I wouldn’t have received this distinction, had it not been for the team work, which is just as important here as it is important in sports,’ said Rafał Sonik during the “2016 Personalities of the Year” gala, as he accepted the award.
Next to Rafał Sonik, the list of nominees included: Janina and Władysław Filar, who has been running a family foster home in Zakopane for years, Jan Gąsienica Walczak, nominated for developing Polish-Roma relations, Janusz Olejniczak, nominated for his efforts towards installing geothermal energy in Kościelisko, and Piotr Manowiecki – an activist, who has been a strong proponent of fast rail connection to Zakopane.