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Taste of Lee raises awareness and funds for the fight against childhood cancer

Story by: Klaudia Balogh

With more than seven thousand attendees, Taste of Lee raised more than $10,000 for Caleb’s Crusade in a daylong event Saturday, Nov. 7 at Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers.

This year was the second time Businesses Supporting Communities hosted the event, with WINK TV being the title sponsor.

Danielle Gates, the owner of Businesses Supporting Communities, said, each year, they talk to several charities then pick one to benefit from a portion of the proceeds.

“Caleb’s Crusade is just a great organization to work with,” Gates said. “They do so much, and they need our help.”

Gates said the nonprofit received 100 percent of the liquor proceeds, and participating restaurants decided whether they wanted to donate an amount at the end of the event.

Rob Whan, the co-founder of Caleb’s Crusade, said he was very impressed with the turnout and that proceeds from the event will go toward holiday grants to families to help with their financial hardships and fund his advocacy work in D.C.

Whan lost his son Caleb to leukemia in 2008, and since then, he and his wife feel it is their mission to help other families in the fight against childhood cancer.

“The role of Caleb’s Crusade is really serving the kids and the families with their financial hardship,” he said. “It’s something that we feel blessed to be able to do in Caleb’s honor.”

Taste of Lee played a critical role in getting the word out about the cause.

“Our biggest part is the awareness that this event brings,” Whan said. “Seven thousand people are getting exposed to Caleb’s Crusade and the needs of childhood cancer.”

The food festival featured 28 Lee County restaurants, such as The Melting Pot, Blu Sushi, Reuben’s Smokehouse and many more, and gave them the opportunity to provide samples of their popular menu items.

Guests could enjoy live entertainment performed by the bands Grayson Rogers, High Five Friday and Bite the Bullet.

Making this event happen was a great accomplishment for Caleb’s Crusade. It supports about a dozen families; however, it hasn’t had the funds to provide monthly financial assistance.

“We’re hoping this event will be able to give us the sustainability to give monthly grants to all those families,” he said.

Next year’s event is already in the works. It’ll be at the same place, Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers, Saturday, November 5, 2016.

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