Tanners Lakeside Receives AED from Culpepper Cardiac Foundation
by James Coulter
Tanners Lakeside has hosted various fundraisers for Melanie Brown Culpepper to help give back to the local community. So it only seems fitting that Melanie would return the favor by donating a defibrillator to the Winter Haven eatery.
Tanners Lakeside was the eleventh local business to receive an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation, a local non-profit organization dedicated to raising proceeds to install AEDs across the county.
Melanie and her crew arrived last Thursday evening to install the AED unit and to demonstrate how to use it in case of an emergency such as cardiac arrest. Another AED has been installed at the nearby establishments of Caribbean Bay and Old Man Frank’s.
Allison Rollins, manager of Tanners Lakeside, has been thankful enough that a customer has not yet required the need of an AED. She remains grateful for the donation and hopes it will be of good use in case such an emergency arises.
“I think it is a great addition to any business,” Rollins said. “[Melanie has] a great foundation that helps a lot of people, and it gets the equipment to the businesses that don’t have it that should have it. She always does great things for the community and helps however she can. We have not had any situations, and I hope we don’t ever do, but having it will help.”
Melanie Brown Culpepper started the foundation nearly two years ago following the untimely passing of her fiancée, Michael Culpepper, who suffered cardiac arrest. Since then, she has raised enough funds to donate eleven AEDs across the county.
AEDs have been installed at: Cutting Edge Salon, Old Man Franks, The Mission, Bartow American Legion, Winter Haven Moose Lodge, Winter Haven Boxing Club, Winter Haven Ski Team, 1st Presbyterian Church, Caribbean Bay, and the Boys and Girls Club of Winter Haven. More AEDs are planned to be installed at Tanners Lakeside, Apples Lounge, Harborside Restaurant, and Victory Ridge Academy.
Eric Shimcus was the EMT on the scene when Michael Culpepper passed away. Since then, he and Melanie have cooperated through her foundation and he has assisted by setting up the AEDs and offering demonstrations.
“I enjoy being around Melanie and helping out with the community,” he said. “Being able to put these out with Melanie has been a great honor. [I hope to] continue doing what we are doing. I want to see this go out throughout Polk County, not just Winter Haven, so I think it is really, really good.”
Brian Beilke was a close friend of Michael Culpepper for nearly 12 years, and he is currently engaged to Melanie. He appreciates everything she does for the community, especially in memory of her good friend. This was the fourth AED donation he assisted her with.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “It is for a good cause. It was a no-brainer [because] he [Michael] is my brother. I would help no one else.”
Melanie has plans to install more AEDs in other areas of the county. Furthermore, she is working on an app that will allow people to locate AEDs in case of an emergency. However, to do all this, she needs the assistance and donations of the local community.
“I have three going out next month, and I have had local businesses and organizations hitting me up wanting them,” she said. “I cannot keep the AEDs coming out if I do not have the funds coming in. So I appreciate all the community coming out to support the event or donate and sponsor.”
To learn more about her organization, visit their website at: https://honoringculpepper.com/