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SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. has presented grants totaling $2.36 million to seven beneficiaries of the 2018 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest to enhance pediatric healthcare and education programs.

Golisano Children’s Hospital, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College are the main beneficiaries, and a portion of auction proceeds also were awarded to PACE Center for Girls of Lee County, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, SalusCare, Inc. and The Heights Foundation.

The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, a signature event of SWFL Children’s Charities, features chef vintner dinners, a grand tasting and live auction. Since its inception 10 years ago, the event has raised more than $25 million to benefit local nonprofit organizations. SWFL Children’s Charities carries out its mission of saving children’s lives by supporting organizations committed to pediatric health care services and education.

Golisano Children’s Hospital plans to use the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest grant to enhance cancer care pediatric equipment, technology and programs.“SWFL Children’s Charities was the second-largest contributor to help build Golisano Children’s Hospital, and we’re thankful the organization continues to be one of our biggest supporters,” said Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health. “By working together for the benefit of our youth, these programs will ultimately save the lives of Southwest Florida children.”

The other beneficiaries have designated Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest proceeds as follows:
• Florida Gulf Coast University: Scholarships for students majoring in pediatric health care sciences.
• Florida SouthWestern State College: Scholarships for students majoring in pediatric health care sciences and equipment for FSW’s health sciences department.
• PACE Center for Girls: Student Services, which encompasses a variety of academic and counseling/social services programs and materials specifically related to PACE’s positive behavior
modification system and student technology.
• Ronald McDonald House Charities: Ronald McDonald Care Mobile to provide medical and dental treatment to unserved and underserved children in Lee, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties.
• SalusCare, Inc.: Hiring of a therapeutic life skills coordinator to work with children and adolescents with mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring disorders.
• The Heights Foundation: School Success Programs to support children and youth academic development and reinforce students’ development of skills for healthy living.

“This year, we expanded the number of grant recipients to seven organizations so the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest could have an even greater impact across Southwest Florida,” said Sandy Stilwell-Youngquist, board president for SWFL Children’s Charities. “For 2019, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest will redirect its philanthropic efforts to local organizations that support mental and behavioral health initiatives. Mental health is an invisible illness that is rarely discussed, yet it impacts nearly one in five families in Southwest Florida.”
The grand tasting and live auction for the 2019 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest will take place at noon on Feb. 24, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. The theme of the 2019 event is “Building Healthy Minds,” aligning with SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s new mental and behavioral health focus.

To learn more about the 2019 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, please visit