The Southeast Produce Council (SEPC) pit crew provided a nutritious pit stop for more than 2,200 Walk For Winnie participants at the annual fundraising and awareness event hosted at SeaWorld Orlando in Orlando, Florida, on Sept. 28. SEPC member volunteers included Farm-Wey Produce, Jim Rash Inc., Pro Citrus Network Inc., Produce for Kids, Todd’s Quality Tomatoes & Wholesale Produce and the National Watermelon Board.
Walk For Winnie is a year-long fundraising campaign, culminating in a walk, which benefits the Alexander Center for Neonatology (NICU) at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. This initiative provides an opportunity to educate and encourage the community by becoming ambassadors for their mission through online fundraising and participation in the event as walkers and/or volunteers. All proceeds from Walk For Winnie support the NICU while also providing NICU families the opportunity to reconnect with their physicians and caregivers.
Since 2014, SEPC has supported Walk For Winnie and the care provided in the NICU at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer. Every year, this partnership has grown not only in sponsorship support, but also through produce donations and volunteerism. As the Walk For Winnie finish line sponsor, the SEPC team cheered on walkers as they crossed the finish line while passing out fresh produce to enjoy. In addition to their finish line presence, the team had tables where they shared additional produce and giveaways with event participants.
“This year, our partnership has grown even deeper through the Council connecting the Orlando Health Foundation and Society of St. Andrews. At the end of Walk For Winnie, the Orlando Health Foundation team collected all leftover food from the event and donated it to Society of St. Andrew. The Society of St. Andrew team then shared it with the Women and Children’s Center at Coalition for the Homeless. By working together, these three organizations were able to make an even greater impact to our community than ever before,” says Drew Strochak, manager for corporate partnerships with the Orlando Health Foundation.
Julie Miller of Todd’s Tomatoes says, “I love the look on the children and families’ faces when they get the free produce; they are so happy and grateful. The goal is to teach healthy eating, and by introducing products to the diverse population of families that attend Walk For Winnie, we get that opportunity. We enjoy seeing the love that these families have for each other—not only their family but their Winnie family; they share a common bond…Mighty successful if I must say so myself. It was a true pleasure meeting all the new volunteers. I hope to see everyone next year.”