The American Heart Association presented William B. Blanchard, M.D., with the esteemed Physician of the Year Award during the association's annual Delegate Assembly in June.

The award is conferred annually to a practicing physician with direct patient care responsibilities who has rendered outstanding contributions to the accomplishment of the association's mission -- to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Blanchard, a pediatric cardiologist in Pensacola, Fla. was praised for his outstanding contributions in the area of cardiovascular disease in children. He has dedicated many years to working with children with cardiovascular disease. One of Blanchard's primary objectives is to increase public awareness of the prevalence of the disease among children.

In 1995, Blanchard was instrumental in developing the Boggy Creek Gang Camp for children with significant cardiovascular disease. The camp was established in cooperation with actor Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Foundation. In the six years since the camp's inception, more than 400 children have attended the summer session, with 160 families participating in family weekends.

Blanchard practices at the Nemours Children's Clinic in Pensacola, where he also serves as medical director of Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. He is a clinical assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Florida and at Tulane University in New Orleans. He served as president of the American Heart Association's Florida/Puerto Rico Affiliate from 1999 to 2000, and has held a position on its board since 1994.

Blanchard has been active as a volunteer at the affiliate level since the 1980s on numerous research and program development committees. He has been a member of their board of directors since 1994. He has also been a strong advocate for tobacco control in the state of Florida, acting as lead spokesperson for the Tri-Agency Coalition on Smoking or Health.