ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Publix Super Markets was announced as the inaugural recipient of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Award from Special Olympics Florida at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. Special Olympics Florida presented the honor to Publix Super Markets for their more than four decades-long role in furthering the vision of the charity’s founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, to promote inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities.
Several Publix associates attended the event on behalf of Publix Super Markets, including Tom McLaughlin, Vice President, Lakeland Division of Publix and Special Olympics Florida Board Member.
Founded in 1972, Special Olympics Florida provides sports training, competition, leadership and health programs to children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost.
Publix’s support of Special Olympics began in 1972 when Publix and the George W. Jenkins Foundation provided the funds to send 60 Florida athletes with intellectual disabilities and their chaperones to compete in the Special Olympics National Games in Los Angeles. Recognizing the impact of Special Olympics as a means to build strong communities, Publix’s legacy of support has helped pioneer many of the organization’s current programs.
Their sponsorship of Special Olympics has continued for forty-three years, most recently through their annual in-store Torch Icon cause marketing campaign. The successful campaign has raised more than $29.7 million for Special Olympics since 1994 and offers customers and associates the opportunity to support athletes across their six-state operating area by purchasing paper torches for $1, $3, $5 or $10. In 2015, Publix collected a total of $3.8 million in contributions for Special Olympics programs to ensure athletes were able to train and compete free of cost. Publix also sponsors the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, an interstate relay that raises funds and awareness for people with intellectual disabilities.
“At Publix, our mission is to be involved as responsible citizens within our communities,” said Maria Brous, Publix Director of Media and Community Relations. “As such, we are proud to be an employer of choice among many of the Special Olympic athletes across our six state operating area. We offer our athletes more than just a job – we offer a fulfilling career and an extension of family. For more than 40 years, we have shared the vision of Special Olympics and have been proud supporters, along with our partners at Procter & Gamble. Together, we are making an impactful difference and celebrating the abilities of our athletes.”
In addition to Publix’s generous financial support for Special Olympics, athletes continue to benefit from the inclusion and leadership demonstrated by Publix in their hiring practices. “Publix’s commitment to inclusionary hiring practices and unparalleled level of care for their community embodies the spirit of Special Olympics,” said Sherry Wheelock, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO. “Their efforts have been transformational, improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Publix has created a legacy of inclusion that will endure for generations to come.” Demonstrating their commitment to community, Publix associates also frequently volunteer at Special Olympics competitions.
Today, Special Olympics Florida serves over 28,000 athletes, has 20,000 volunteers and is one of the largest volunteer-driven athletic organizations in the state.
CONTACT: Danielle Spears 352-727-5097