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SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. presents $200,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University

SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. is pleased to present $200,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in support of the school’s health science programs. Promoting quality education for Southwest Florida’s next generation of health care providers, the contribution will help provide scholarships for deserving students enrolled in FGCU’s health science programs.

In 2015, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. pledged $1 million to FGCU, payable in five annual installments of $200,000, to award scholarships to qualifying health professional students with an interest in pursuing pediatrics right here in Southwest Florida. Contributions are raised through the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s annual signature fundraising event, and are administered by the school.

“SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. is a longtime supporter of Florida Gulf Coast University, and we are grateful for their continued efforts to make a difference in the lives of our students, health care industry and community,” said FGCU President Dr. Michael Martin. “Through SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s enduring partnership, we were able to provide scholarships for more than 40 students last year, ensuring quality education and training so that they are well-prepared to care for our community through their essential health care roles.”

The contribution truly makes a difference in the lives of students who are impacted by the community’s support. A teen mom, FGCU student Casey Haenn started college as a dual enrollment student in her junior year of high school. During her time at FGCU, she has been part of FGCU’s honors program, completed a study abroad program, and serves fellow students as a Women in STEM mentor. After she graduates in May 2018, she plans to work locally as a pediatric nurse.

“Because of the support of FGCU and organizations like SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc., I was able to stay in school and graduate in just three years, debt-free and with summa cum laude honors,” Haenn said. “I am incredibly thankful for all the support of the community and my family that have made my success and everything I do possible, and I can’t wait to give back to the community that has given me so much.”

In addition to FGCU, the organization also supports other local beneficiaries, including the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and Florida SouthWestern State College, and has raised $18.7 million over the past nine years in support of these organizations.

“Exceptional health care is reliant on high-quality education, and SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. is honored to support FGCU’s efforts to prepare students for providing lifesaving medical services to children throughout Southwest Florida,” said Elaine Hawkins, trustee and president of the board of directors, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. “Through our annual Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, we are able to help students focus on achieving greatness, ensuring that children within our region will have access to the best health care possible for years to come.”

SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.’s annual signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, has raised $18.7 million over the past nine years, making it one of the top-grossing wine fests in the country. The trustees and sponsors underwrite the event and the nonprofit, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc., donates 100 percent of the auction proceeds to local beneficiaries. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is the most significant beneficiary of the event, which provides health services to children from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. In addition, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. grants funds to Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College to provide scholarships and equipment to educate the community’s next generation of pediatric health care professionals, and also PACE Center for Girls of Lee County, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, SalusCare, Inc. and The Heights Foundation in further support of health care and services for children. For more information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.

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