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Special Olympics Florida Teams Up with Publix Once Again for Torch Icon Campaign

For 50 years, Special Olympics Florida and Publix Super Markets have united through a mission-driven collaboration to help people with intellectual disabilities and provide more life-changing opportunities to Special Olympics Florida athletes. The iconic duo is teaming up once again holding the annual Torch Icon Campaign, bringing together Publix associates, customers, and local communities to support more than 60,000 Special Olympics athletes in Florida and beyond.

All customers who visit their local Publix can help support athletes with a simple donation now through January 16th. All donors will receive over $20 in coupon savings, including exclusive savings on Procter & Gamble brands like Crest, Always, Olay, Old Spice, Gillette, and Pampers.  Donations can be made at the register during check out for as little as $1 or a specific desired amount.

“The campaign is going phenomenally so far,” Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock told West Orlando News. “We have a lot of energy out there from our sponsors, and we couldn’t be happier with that.”

The campaign is about awareness in addition to fundraising. Everyone in the community can get involved simply by stopping by their neighborhood Publix. There is a story at each register about an athlete and how the funds will impact their lives. Wheelock added Publix has been a “pioneer” when it comes to inclusion and diversity.

“Publix hires many athletes to be their associates,” Wheelock said. “It is the true embodiment of Special Olympics and allows access to opportunity so our athletes can continue to be great contributors. Publix for decades has been allowing our athletes to be part of their team and to me, that stands out in our partnership and relationship.”

Procter & Gamble is another major supporter of the campaign, as they provide the coupons for those who donate and they fund the collateral side of campaign. This helps Special Olympics Florida not have any costs associated with the fundraiser. “Fundraisers like this, where the dollars go directly into our programs, are amazing,” said Wheelock. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

It is very important for the organization, as well as the donor, to know the money will go directly to the mission. Special Olympics Florida does not charge anything to the families to participate – it’s not free, of course, but they don’t charge to anyone in their program. Special Olympics Florida serves nearly 60,000 athletes who compete at the local, state, national and international levels. In addition to training and competition for these athletes, Special Olympics Florida provides more than $2 million in free medical screenings for thousands of Floridians with intellectual disabilities through its health programs, including much needed access to free prescription glasses and hearing aids.

“As a supporter of Special Olympics, we’ve championed their mission through our annual register campaign which has raised more than $60 million dollars and associate volunteerism,” said Dwaine Stevens, Publix Director of Community Relations. “We’re honored to play a part in the good work of Special Olympics by helping empower athletes to discover new abilities and strengths and helping to make our communities more inclusive.”

Special Olympics Florida is also embarking on its 50th anniversary of working to build a more inclusive world for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Florida has a long and rich history creating opportunities for its athletes and has worked to change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through year-round sports training and competition, critical health services, leadership development, and inclusive programming.

Through the longstanding relationship with Publix Super Markets – that is now 50 years old – and with the annual tradition of the Torch Icon campaign, Special Olympics Florida helps build more welcoming and supportive communities for its athletes across the state.

Since 1993, more than $60 million dollars has been raised through the Torch Icon Campaign, helping Special Olympics athletes to develop their physical and mental wellness, demonstrate courage and experience the power of sports with their family, friends, and their local communities. This year, the campaign is reaching new communities throughout the Southeast U.S. and supporting more Special Olympics athletes, making this the largest campaign to date.

Those looking to participate in the Torch Icon Campaign and help support local Special Olympics Florida athletes can visit their local participating Publix through January 16th.  Participants will also have the chance to meet Special Olympics athletes in-store to hear about their inspiring stories.

To learn more about the Torch Icon Campaign, please visit www.specialolympicsflorida.org.

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