President of Home Solutions Wins Mr. Central Florida 2021
by James Coulter
Ricky Peacock, President of Home Solution Lenders Inc. in Bartow, had a family member who requires speech therapy due to their apraxia. Fortunately, he and his family could afford it, but knowing that many other families could not, he wanted to do something to help them.
When he learned about Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center, a local organization dedicated to offering speech and hearing services to people of all ages and incomes, he decided to get on board with their annual fundraiser, Mr. Central Florida.
He, along with two dozen other men in the community, spent the last year raising money and awareness for Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center. He managed to raise the most money, raising more than $71,000. His efforts earned him the title of this year’s Mr. Central Florida.
This was the first year competing and participating in the Mr. Central Florida fundraiser. He owes his success to the hard work and effort of his dedicated campaign manager. More than simply winning the event, he appreciated participating with many other dedicated volunteers for a wonderful organization.
“It was awesome, a beautiful event [with] a lot of people and smiling faces, certainly a place I want to come back [to] and participate,” he said. “It feels great [winning], but it is more important to give back to the community. I am glad my friends and family are here. It has exceeded expectations. It really has.”
Mr. Central Florida is the major annual fundraiser for the Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center, a local treatment facility assisting patients with speech and hearing disorders within the Greater Lakeland area. For more than 60 years, the facility has remained true to its mission, according to its website, “to provide the highest quality speech, language and hearing services, always in a caring manner.”
Before their annual fundraiser, volunteers spend the previous year going out into the community to raise funds and awareness for the organization. The man who collects the most funds receives the glorious title of Mr. Central Florida.
This year’s ceremony was hosted at CMX Cinemas Lakeside 18 & IMAX in Lakeside Village. Originally, the event was to be hosted outdoors in tents before convening indoors within one of the theaters; however, due to the weather, the event was moved inside the theater lobby. Guests could bid in silent auctions and sample food from local caterers and eateries.
“Everything is going fantastic,” said Roxann K. Bonta, President and CEO. “I so appreciate the community who came out. People seem to have fun, and that is what we want to do. It is not just about making money, but making friends and allowing people to have an evening out with a fun time…We are so blessed and thankful that everyone has come out and all the people in the community that support us and allow us to provide the services we do.”
Lt. Jim Ostjic was last year’s Mr. Central Florida. Last year, he earned his title by helping the organization raise more than $260,000. This year, he attended the event as a board member and as one of the emcees for the evening.
“It feels really good to attend Mr. Central Florida again,” he said. “I really am glad to see the community come out tonight. It raises money for a great organization of the speech and hearing center…All of the work they do for the children, including the hearing aids they provide for them, all the hearing assistance they provide the community, it is really important. We are able to be blessed with all the money they provided last year, I hope they beat our record this year.”