United Way of Central Florida

United Way Belt Buckle Bash a Huge Celebration for Community Leaders


The United Way of Central Florida Belt Buckle Bash & Annual Meeting was held Friday evening, March 6 at the Higgenbotham Ranch in Lakeland. The boot-stompin signature event was created 5 years ago as a way to celebrate United Way Leadership Givers.  We currently have 2,400 Leadership Givers across our community including CEOs, executives and others who set an example with their time, talent and treasure—leading together with us, they dedicate their resources to United Way solutions that strengthen the community and our workforce.


In recent years, this event has also served as the Annual Meeting.  On Friday we announced several significant United Way Annual Awards including Small Business of the Year, Mid-Sized Business of the Year, Large Business of the YearNew Business of the Year, as well as, the Spirit of Central Florida award and our most prestigious awards of the 2015 Citizen of the Year and the 2015 George W. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year.


We like to think of them as champions of change --please join us in reaching out with grand congratulations to our 2014-15 United Way Award Winners:  


Small Business of the Year:  Madden Brand Agency

A small business with a huge heart for United Way’s work, CEO, Steve Madden has led Madden Brand Agency to create a culture of giving with 100% employee participation.  


Mid-Sized Business of the Year:  Citizens Bank & Trust

A mid-sized business that demonstrated commitment to United Way and creating lasting change, the Citizens Bank & Trust team has spent in excess of 10,000 volunteer hours to support the mission; and increased donations a total 64% since 2009. 


Large Business of the Year:  Coca Cola Refreshments

A large business that has proven to inspire more to join the movement, Coca Cola in Auburndale combined a commitment to the community, great leadership and creativity to produce an incredible 450% increase in donations. 


New Business of the Year: (a tie this year) Petersen Industries, Core Wealth Advisors

New Business leader Peterson Industries, a Lake Wales manufacturing company, demonstrated a commitment to the mission in their inaugural campaign year, raising over $7,000; and

New Business leader CORE Wealth Advisors inspired an incredible 100% participation and raised $9,000 in their first campaign to support United Way solutions that strengthen the community. 


Spirit of Central Florida:  A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure

This award acknowledges a company who has surpassed all expectations and has been presented in the past to Publix, Mosaic, Illinois Tool Works (formerly QMI), GEICO and DSM Technology Consultants. This year, A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure is named the Spirit of Central Florida Winner. Dedicated to the work of United Way for 10 years— they have also engaged broader community-wide support in recent years with their notable Chili Cook-Off in Bartow. CEO, Rob Kincart has led incredible growth of a corporate giving culture at A-C-T. 


2015 Citizen of the Year:  John Frazier

This year’s Citizen of the Year, John Frazier is a man of distinction who offers quiet, well considered leadership for the community.  A Publix retiree, he served on the Board of Directors for the Publix Employees Federal Credit Union. John is respected by many who have worked with him over the years at Publix and at United Way. He has volunteered to advance the work of United Way since 2002. He assembled a team of diverse leaders to identify the most effective tools to measure the quality of crisis services. He served as a key resource development volunteer for many years raising funds needed for solutions that strengthen the community. Most recently, John has volunteered as the rare, male role-model for children in the ReadingPals early literacy initiative.


2015 George W. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year:  Terry Brigman

This year’s Volunteer of the Year, Terry Brigman has been a long-time strategic leader for United Way and the community. His ethics and commitment to making a difference are well known and admired. A father of two girls, he has taught them the importance of giving back and paying it forward. Terry has volunteered to advance the work of United Way since 2000, serving as both a member and chair of several Community Investment and Resource Development Teams. He began as member and chair of a Community Investment Team, helping to fund services that make a measurable and sustainable difference in the lives of thousands across our community. He was the Chair of the first Income Steering Team that explored ways United Way could help low-income families improve and maintain financial stability. Terry has been a member and Chair of the United Way Community Impact Cabinet, member of the United Way Board of Directors and a key Resource Development volunteer.


Close to 600 people were registered to attend the Belt Buckle Bash & Annual Meeting. Guests adorning their favorite buckles and boots enjoyed an evening of music, refreshments and good ‘ole country activities on the beautiful grounds at Higgenbotham Ranch. This year they enjoyed the live music of Madison Grace, Justin Grimes and the notable Cliff Brown Band. DJ Shawn Williams was on site to rally the country spirit and dancing, Peebles BBQ, mechanical bull rides, hay rides, fun photo opportunities and more provided a memorable celebration.


Thanks to the generosity of the following sponsors, no campaign money was used for this event:  Publix Super Markets Charities Inc, The Mosaic Company, Polk State College, Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, Advanced Retail Merchandising, Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate, GEICO, Two Men and A Truck, ITW ProAp and the Higgenbotham Rocking H Ranch.


Click here for The Ledger article and more pictures. 


About United Way of Central Florida

 A philanthropy leader locally and regionally, United Way of Central Florida understands local needs and drives sustainable change to build better lives and stronger communities. We provide solutions focused in the areas of education, income and health because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life. We bring people and organizations together from all across the community –people with the passion, expertise and resources to get things done.  That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.

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Event Calendar

Mar 12/18 - Mar 29/18 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM Build United- Register a Team Today!
Apr 03/18 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM Tocqueville Tuesdays - Bonnet Springs Park
Apr 19/18 09:00 AM - 11:00 AM Infant Massage at Family Fundamentals
Apr 19/18 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM Board of Directors Meetings

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