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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Saving Lives Matters Raises Proceeds to Save Lives in Winter Haven 

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Saving Lives Matters Raises Proceeds to Save Lives in Winter Haven

by James Coulter

Melissa Cogdill, a band member of Spankin Sadie, recently had her husband in the hospital for a week to treat his atrial fibrillation (afib). As someone with a loved one who experienced cardiac problems, she empathizes with the cause ofthe Culpepper Cardiac Foundation, a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting heart health by installing AEDs in the local community and assisting EMTs and other first responders.

Cogdill showed her support by performing with her band at the Saving Lives Matter fundraiser hosted at Tanners Lakeside in Winter Haven. She always goes out of her way to support her best friend, Melanie Brown Culpepper, who heads the foundation. She especially empathizes with Melanie, whose late fiancé, Michael Culpepper, passed away from cardiac arrest, and whose passing inspired the creation of the foundation.

“This event is for the whole community. We never know if somebody is going to need it. So for me, it hits home,” Cogdill explained. “I love my girl [Melanie] so much and I love how she has taken this tragedy of hers and turned it around for something positive.”

Saving Lives Matter received a decent turnout with nearly 100 attendees turning out that afternoon and evening to donate what they have to a good cause through raffles and silent auctions. Several dozen gift baskets were auctioned off from local businesses, and local bands like Spankin Sadie performed live music.

Proceeds from the event will go toward three scholarships to local EMTs and other first responders, and to install AEDs throughout the community. Enough proceeds were raised, especially through one generous donation, to install a device at the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team Stadium at Lake Silver this January.

Since its inception two years ago, the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation has raised enough proceeds to install six AEDs in Winter Haven businesses and establishments including Melanie’s Cutting Edge Salon, The Mission, Winter Haven Boxing, Old Man Frank’s, and the Haines City American Legion.

Melanie has already stated that she has conferred three scholarships and installed six AEDs, and she plans on conferring three more scholarships each year and up to 10 AEDs annually. She hopes to one day raise enough money to have one AED on every city block.

“One of us with be the close first responder, because all it takes is one AED that can save a life,” she said. “So, everyone who comes together, I pull it together, but it is the whole community that brings it together. And if we save one person’s life, then all the stress that I go through is worth it to me.”

Highway, a member of the Worldwide Motorcycle Club (the Avengers), was a close friend of Michael before he passed away. He has remained close friends with Melanie and supports her in her endeavors. He served as the master of ceremonies for the event last Saturday.

He appreciates how Melanie gives her whole heart to serve her local community, and how that community, in turn, comes out to support her. He also supports her cause because he knows so many people who might one day end up in a predicament that requires medical attention.

“You never know,” he said. “They can be 20 years old. They will be 45 years old. You do not know that cardiac problems can happen in a blink of an eye, and you are not aware until you are diagnosed.”

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