Newswise — Park Ridge, Illinois—John Bendele, Jr., MS, CRNA, of California, Ky., will receive the Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year Award during the American Association of Nurse Anesthetist (AANA) Nurse Anesthesia Annual Congress, which is being held Sept. 8-12, 2017, in Seattle. Bendele is a longtime supporter of the AANA Foundation and the nurse anesthesia profession. He has served as a CRNA in the Navy, taught nurse anesthesia students at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and volunteered in Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, Vietnam, Gaza, and Belize.

John's passion as a Navy CRNA and an overseas volunteer anesthesia provider exemplifies his true dedication to giving to others beyond his generosity to the AANA Foundation. John's life and choices to give to others make him an extraordinary recipient of this award.

“My life as a nurse anesthetist has been full of joy, excitement, and adventure,” said Bendele. “I have been given friendship, hugs of gratitude, gifts of thanks, and faith in my ability to care for my patients.”

Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year Award
This award is presented to an individual who has gone beyond the call of duty as a supporter of the AANA Foundation by donating time, talent, and direct financial support. The recipient demonstrates a strong philanthropic spirit, and his or her actions motivate others to give of themselves. 

Rita L. LeBlanc was an enthusiastic supporter of the AANA Foundation, a Board of Trustees member, and AANA Region 1 Director (1995-97), as well as serving on many committees at both state and national levels. Known for her unfailing optimism, LeBlanc personified the selfless “can do” spirit of the AANA Foundation and its goals.

About the AANA Foundation
Established in 1981, the AANA Foundation is a charitable organization devoted to anesthesia research, education and development.  The Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. The Foundation funds scholarships, doctoral fellowships, post-doctoral fellowships, research grants, general poster sessions, oral "State of the Science" poster sessions and doctoral mentorships.  Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year, Advocate of the Year and Researcher of the Year Awards are presented annually by the AANA Foundation. 

About the AANA
Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., and Washington, D.C., the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is the professional organization representing more than 52,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists across the United States. As advanced practice registered nurses and anesthesia specialists, CRNAs administer approximately 43 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year and are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America. In some states, CRNAs are the sole anesthesia professionals in nearly 100 percent of rural hospitals.