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A place renowned for making the hopes and dreams of its students possible opened its doors this past Saturday, Feb. 25, to help grant wishes for children of Southwest Florida.
This past weekend, FGCU hosted the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Seventh Annual Walk for Wishes, a 5K walk/run at FGCU’s recreation fields. Walk For Wishes is a nationwide Make-A-Wish fundraiser that has already granted roughly 270,000 wishes.
The walk around FGCU Boulevard began at 8:30 a.m. as participants took off from the starting line. UPD was stationed around the campus circle to ensure the safe flow of regular university traffic as well as stations manned by the local Boy Scouts with cups of waters for the runners.
Dorothy Blasingim and Tammy Teece, the chairs of this year’s event, were involved in last year’s event as a small sponsor. Having raised a total of $108,774.36, their goal for this year’s event was to raise to grant 23 local wishes.
Teece, who first became involved with the organization two years ago after volunteering and then becoming a wish-grantor, said she has a friend back in Massachusetts whose sister’s wish to meet “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the former WWE champion, inspired her to take action.
“We were very, very close friends,” Teece said. “So when this opportunity came up, I thought back to that moment and how that family and my friend were effected, and I just couldn’t say no.”
Patrik Kiraly, who was born in Hungary and raised in New York, participated in the walk as a member of team Publix. The employee at the store in Cape Coral said he had only heard about the event a few days before it was set to take place, but as soon as he did hear, he knew he had to participate.
“Everybody got out here,” Kiraly said. “Everybody did it, and everybody did great, even in the heat.”
The top-five fundraising teams included Brooks & Freund raising $7,705; the Wish Trekkers with $5,813; Regions Bank with $5,396; the Wish Makers with $4,160; and the Wishketeers with $3,826.00.
The top-five fundraising individuals were Jane Farnsworth raising $5,395; Tammy Teece raising $3,510; Toni Morgenstein raising $2,682; Rebecca Moldenhauer raising $2,122; and Barbara Gallo raising $1,772.
The top-five fundraising companies were Regions Bank raising $16,198.59; Make-A-Wish’s $5,029; Publix’s $4,654.92; Legacy Education Alliance’s $1,185.17; and KGT Remodeling’s $85.
Sponsors for the walk/run setup tents on FGCU’s recreation fields to handout prizes and free giveaways.
Sponsors included: Publix, Regions, Blue Ocean Press, Family Thrift Center, Feil Inc., FGCU Institute for Entrepreneurship, FGCU Business and Entrepreneurship Club, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, It’s IT, Joey D’s Restaurant, Island Coast Pediatrics, Golisano Children’s Hospital of SWFL, Boar’s Head, Sky Zone Fort Myers, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Mutual of Omaha Bank, Once Upon a Child, Regions, Scott M. Craven, Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee, Shoreline Flooring Supplies and Trusted Choice.
If you were unable to attend, there will be another walk on Oct. 14 at the same location.
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(EN Photos / Zack Rothman)