Leadership Winter Haven Class 41 Hosts Fall Fest for Juvenile Diabetes
by James Coulter
At Martin Luther King Jr. Park, along the waters of Lake Silver in Downtown Winter Haven, residents and visitors had an opportunity to play games, paint pumpkins and their faces, and enjoy other activities during the event.
Many of the activities were hosted by local businesses and organizations including Advent Health, the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team, and the local police and fire departments.
Proceeds from the event went toward Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for type-2 diabetes research. The decision to donate to the foundation was inspired by the class chair of this year’s Leadership Winter Haven Class, who was also a member of the organization.
“He has family members who suffer from the disease,” said classmate Stephanie Lewis. “In support of all he has done for us, we wanted to give back and support an org that he supports himself.”
Lewis appreciated how she and her classmates were able to pull together to plan and prepare the event. Over the past eight months, they have grown close together, especially toward their class chair, which is why they decided to host the event in his honor.
“I like how we came together to do this,” she explained. “We have grown as a team and made friends as a result of this program.”
As this month was National Diabetes Awareness Month, supporting a local diabetes organization through their fundraiser seemed most apropos. Not only were they able to support a good cause, but they were able to allow the local community to have a good time in the process, said class member Julie Altidor.
“In terms of engagement from our leadership class, we would have loved more community participation, but in terms of our medical community, the involvement of our city and chamber, it was top tier and we are grateful,” she said.
Over the past eight months, she and her classmates were able to learn how to be better community leaders by learning how to decipher the needs of the community and find innovative ways to meet those needs.
“So we can really understand our strengths and weaknesses of our area, and then from there we take that collective experience and see how we can impact our community both personally and collectively,” she said. “So this is how we decided to end our class with a fall festival.”