Hundreds of community leaders gather to kick off United Way campaign at Community Leaders’ Breakfast

Take the “Beat the Bull Challenge” on Oct. 19 at the Merrill Lynch Bull Run 5K run/walk to benefit United Way – Change doesn’t happen alone. That was the rallying message shared with the crowd of 200 attendees at United Way of Martin County’s Community Leaders’ Breakfast held at Miles Grant Country Club. The theme of collaboration was underscored by spotlighting the involvement of United Way’s corporate partners and their employee volunteers as well as the nonprofit organizations that are working together to build a stronger Martin County.

“Our goal is to engage more people in our community-building work. The lasting change we’re after isn’t quick or easy. It can’t be done by a single sector or organization. But together with our partners and volunteers, we are building a better Martin County,” said United Way of Martin County President/CEO Carol G. Houwaart-Diez. During the program, 2018-19 Campaign Chair Ademil Castrillo, Wells Fargo, announced Martin County’s Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces and Communities. These are the Top 10 of the nearly 200 companies and communities whose employees and residents gave philanthropic contributions to and through United Way of Martin County during the previous fiscal year. Publix Supermarkets again reigns as the number one most generous workplace and Sailfish Point as the most generous community in Martin County.

United Way presented the Rising Star Award to the Martin County Board of County Commissioners, highlighting their renewed commitment to United Way. The Spirit Award was presented to Bank of America and Merrill, a Bank of America Company for their outstanding commitment through their corporate culture of giving and their support of Tikis on the Terrace and the Merrill Lynch Bull Run 5K. Triumph Aerostructures was recognized with the Hand Raiser Award for always lending a helping hand to support United Way initiatives like Day of Caring and the United Way Holiday Project. The Game Changer Award was presented to Seacoast Bank. Since 2010, Seacoast Bank has raised $780,000 to improve communities through United Way and their commitment grows stronger each year. The Collaborator of the Year Award was presented to Cleveland Clinic Martin Health for their commitment to volunteerism, partnership with United Way’s CHARACTER COUNTS! program and for their successful United Way fundraising campaign that increased 5 percent over the prior year. The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Amy Bottegal, Centerstate Bank, and Robert Ankrom, The Pine School. Bottegal and Ankrom were founding members of United Way of Martin County’s Leaders United affinity group. Comprised of professionals who give, advocate and volunteer to further the mission of United Way, this group continues to thrive thanks in part to their leadership and dedication.

The program concluded with an inspiring message from 2019-2020 Campaign Co-Chairs Martin County Schools Superintendent Laurie Gaylord and her husband Attorney Marc Gaylord who hope to increase the amount raised through United Way’s annual campaign. Last year, United Way invested more than $2 million in Martin County to help families get on solid financial ground, students get off to a good start in school, and at-risk youth learn vocational and technical skills, and more. To learn more about United Way of Martin County visit or