Lee Health Foundation honors Dr. Steve Machiz with Humanitarian Award at its Evening of Gratitude event

Elaine Hawkins, Dr. Stephen Machiz, Ester Machiz and Sandy Stilwell Youngquist

Lee Health Foundation has awarded the Frank Haskell Humanitarian Award to Dr. Steve Machiz for his incredible leadership in establishing SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc., a nonprofit most known for its annual Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest.

Machiz established the nonprofit in 2008, and one year later, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. pledged $10 million to build a new children’s hospital in Southwest Florida. By 2012, they were ranked by Wine Spectator as the third most successful wine festival in the country. Since its inception, it has generously donated more than $19 million to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, making it the second-largest donor behind the hospital’s namesake, Tom Golisano.

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Dr. Stephen Machiz and Christopher J. Simoneau

“I was honored to be in a position to bring the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest to life with the support of so many caring and generous people,” shared Dr. Steve Machiz.

“By being strategic and thinking big, we have proven that when we work together for the community good, we can accomplish anything. There is no greater joy than to see the Children’s Hospital standing tall and proud on the campus of HealthPark.”

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Prior to Machiz’ acceptance at the event, a new pledge of $3 million to create SWFL Children’s Charities Eye Institute of Golisano Children’s Hospital was announced. This pledge will make SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. the largest donor to Golisano Children’s Hospital.

The Frank Haskell Humanitarian Award recognizes outstanding leadership in the advancement of quality health care for the citizens of Southwest Florida.

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Barb High, Frank Haskell and Amy Frith

The award is named in honor of Frank Haskell, co-founder, with his late wife Betty, of Barbara’s Friends – Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund, which was named in memory of their daughter Barbara after cancer claimed her life when she was far too young. For more than 25 years, Frank has worked tirelessly to help local children win their battles with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders.

At age 90 he is not done yet, raising more than $20 million to date and counting. Previous recipients of the award have included Al Kinkle, Joe Catti, Jim Nathan and Amanda Cross.

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Therese Everly, Dr. Sandy Cohen, Ms. Sandy Cohen, Anna “Boots” Tolles

The prestigious award was presented at Lee Health Foundation’s annual Evening of Gratitude, held Nov. 20 at The Forest Country Club. The formal event thanked more than 350 donors and supporters in attendance for their generosity and unwavering commitment to enhancing health care services within the Lee Health network.

Also in attendance to address the audience was Kelli Parlavecchio, a patient of Lee Health’s Regional Cancer Center and beneficiary of the Sharon MacDonald Breast Health Fund.

Sharon MacDonald was present at the event who shared an embracing moment after Parlavecchio shared her story of gratitude. Fifteen-year-old Summer Kates, who was hit by a car in 2015, also shared her story of gratitude. Kates now runs her own nonprofit, Summer’s Cookies, to benefit the Child Life program at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.  

For more about health care advocacy in Southwest Florida and philanthropic opportunities with Lee Health, visit LeeHealthFoundation.org.