Culpepper Cardiac Foundation Delivers Food to Fire Chief Jerry Riner and Frostproof Fire Department
by James Coulter
Fire Chief Jerry Riner and his staff at the Frostproof Fire Department received a pleasant surprise last Friday with a delivery of homemade meals and other food by the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation.
Melanie Brown Culpepper, the founder of the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation, paid a visit to the city fire department, where she delivered several boxes of homemade meals, including lasagna and fresh fruit like bananas and cantaloupe, all provided by Freedom Tour Church in Lake Wales.
During her visit, Melanie discussed her non-profit organization, which supports fire personnel and other EMTs within the county, raises awareness about heart health, and raises proceeds to fund the installation of AEDs.
She shared her story about her organization was startedfollowing the death of her late fiancée, Michael Brown, who passed away from cardiac arrest last year despite the best attempts of local EMTs to revive him.
Since then, Melanie has made deliveries to various fire stations throughout the county in Lake Wales, Winter Haven, and Haines City. Chief Riner was honored to have his station receive this goodwill, and he appreciated Melanie’s efforts to support local firefighters and other EMT personnel.
“It is a real good feeling knowing that someone out there has taken the time and effort to feed my guys here at the station,”Chief Riner said. “For everything that she has gone through and to still think about others speaks volumes of her personality. You can feel she has real dedication and devotion to this, and it shows gratitude for the fire personnel who tried to help her. Now she is going out to her community and other organization aroundPolk County.”
Associate Fire Chief Clifford Coffer likewise appreciated hearing Melanie’s message about her cause. He felt the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation was accomplishing good works within the local community, especially concerning his profession. He especially appreciated how she assisted his fire department through her goodwill.
“We feel this is a need for getting the word out to all of the public,” Coffer said. “We are very positive with her outlook on everything. I know a lot of [locals] are looking for AEDs, a lot of groups around Polk County. The best thing to do is to keep it going and keep it strong. It is very positive. Never give up.”
During her visit to the station, Melanie learned about the local history of the Frostproof community. In addition, she visited the Indian Burial Mound located outside the station and the Mister Chris’ Coffee Gallery & Depot across the street.
Melanie also learned about the current situation concerning the city fire department and its chief. Chief Riner has served for many years at the city and county fire departments; however, recently, he was given an ultimatum by the county to either work for them or the county. He was inevitably terminated from his position with the county.
Melanie admired his willingness to stand by his loyalty to his city and to maintain his integrity during the whole ordeal. Being able to assist him and his fire department proved to be a true honor that afternoon.
“Today was the most touching fire department visit I have been to,” she said. “I am very supportive of Jerry…I can feel the love and heart they have for the station and for everything they do being firemen and for standing up for what they believe in.”