Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation Visits Lake Wales For First Responder Friday
by James Coulter
Deputy Chief Roy Wilkinson has been serving at the Lake Wales Fire Department for 21 years. He loves the community he was raised in, and he appreciates being able to serve it through his career in the fire department.
What he loves even more are local residents and other community members showing their appreciation through small kind gestures. He and his staff received one such gesture last Friday when volunteers delivered lunch to the fire station.
Melanie Brown Culpepper and the volunteers from her non-profit organization, Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation, delivered several boxes of food, including filet mignons, chips, drinks, and other snacks, to the Lake Wales Fire Department for the monthly First Responders Friday initiative.
“It has been amazing,” explained Deputy Chief Wilkinson. “It helps you know what you are doing is worth it. That you are impacting and helping people. Sometimes in the monotony of doing the job every day, it seems like you are going through the motions, but when you hear how it impacts people’s lives, it is powerful as well.”
During the visit, the chief and his staff were able to learn about the good work Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation has been doing, especially by raising awareness for heart health and raising donations to supply defibrillators throughout the county.
Melanie started the non-profit organization last year following the death of her late fiancée Michael Culpepper, who suffered from cardiac arrest despite the best efforts of the responding EMTs. She has since been raising money to set up defibrillators at various locations, including Tanner’s Lakeside and her own salon, Melanie’s Cutting Edge.
“I think it is powerful how she is turning her tragedy and loss into something positive,” Wilkinson said. I had a heart attack a year and a half ago, so I know what she was going through and what she is talking about. And I appreciate what she is doing.”
Melanie has hosted various fundraisers throughout the year to help raise proceeds for her cause. Recently, she hosted Saving Lives Matters to raise awareness for heart health and local emergency services. This November, she will be hosting a pool tournament at Slate 8 Billiards.
She enjoys being able to deliver meals to first responders on the first Friday of every month. She and her team had previously served the fire departments in Bartow, Winter Haven, and Haines City.
“That made me very happy for them to be with me today, and I was able to be with them today,” Melanie said. “It was very touching and rewarding and it makes me very happy to see the firefighters very appreciative and thankful that we do this because they put their lives out for us every single day.”
Bobby Williams, Pastor of Freedom Tour Church in Lake Wales, helps prepare the food delivered to the fire departments. He and his church believe in setting an example by serving other people as they would God. Being able to participate with Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation is one way he does that.
“We appreciate the fire fighters,” he said. “It is a way for us to give back to them and show them to keep up the good work, to show people they are appreciated, [because] people out there do appreciate them and will lift them up in their prayers and that we are praying for them and they are one of us.”
Terica Moore also participated that day. She was one of the EMTs who administered defibrillation to Melanie’s fiancée on his way to the hospital. Since then, she had been good friends with Melanie and helped her in her endeavors.
I am very proud of Melanie for what she is doing and for her community,” she said. “Me and Melanie have been doing this for many years. She helped me when I lost my son, and we started doing benefits for that and raising scholarships for kids going to college…She has helped me out with that and I have been with her ever since, so every benefit she has, I have been right there by her side and vice versa.”