On sunny days, Daniel Island resident Michael Sudzina can be spotted cruising around town in his classic ’64 black Bonneville convertible. Affectionately known as Bonnie, the head-turning auto even has her own fan club. Last year Bonnie won best American car at Cars on Kiawah.
When Sudzina first laid eyes on Bonnie, it brought back fond memories of cruising, drive-in movies, and hanging out at the local diner.
“In high school, I had a red Bonneville convertible,” he said. “Back then the car was our freedom ... Every time I drive her I feel 18 again.”
Sudzina’s love of the past led him to volunteer at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, where he spends time in the Collections Department organizing and cataloguing artifacts, pictures and documents.
Patriots Point is home to the Patriots Point Museum and includes a fleet of National Historic Landmark ships, the Cold War Memorial, the largest Vietnam exhibit in the country, and the agency's official Medal of Honor Museum.
Sudzina has volunteered on the ship since 2008 and was a co-founder of the Yorktown Foundation for Educational Outreach. The foundation focuses on educating visitors on patriotism, honor, and sacrifice demonstrated by veterans. It takes a high-tech interactive approach to enhance the learning experience of today’s tech-savvy audiences.
For his dedication and hard work, this year Sudzina was named the Patriot Point Distinguished Volunteer of the Year, on Veterans Day. Sudzina was humbled by the award.
“We have about 140 volunteers at Patriots Point and to be selected was quite an honor,” he said. “In fact, nine of our volunteers live here on Daniel Island. Since opening in 1976, Patriots Point has become one of the state's most popular tourist attractions with more than 300,000 visitors each year.”
His wife, Mary, was pleased about the recent recognition.
“Before we even moved here, Mike had said that he would do two things – volunteer at the Yorktown and join the DI Rotary,” she said. “He has worked selflessly for both organizations and has been recognized by his peers for his efforts. There is no greater honor.”
The Sudzinas moved to Daniel Island in 2006 because of the active lifestyle their Parkside neighborhood offers. Originally, the couple planned to retire in Kiawah, but after venturing to Daniel Island on a whim they were sold on the multi-age community with schools, churches, and sports stadium.
The former Marine always knew he wanted to volunteer, so after he retired from Procter & Gamble in 2008, he immediately became involved with the Patriots Point organization.
“I've had the opportunity to meet with other veterans and learn about their experiences in the service. It's been a great patriotic group,” he said. “I served in the Marine Corps and feel it is important for today’s young people to understand what their predecessors did to protect our freedom. I think Patriots Point does a great job of telling this story.”
• Favorite DI establishment? Food, Dragon Palace. Other, Delta Pharmacy
• Best part about living on DI? Terrific friends and neighbors.
• First thing you want to do after COVID restrictions are lifted? Have a party to celebrate our 50th Anniversary (August 8, 2020) where no one wears a mask nor social distances.
• Favorite dessert? Cheesecake