New Committee Gears Up for the Biggest-Ever Big Backpack Event

The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida celebrates 15 years and 30,000 smiles

Leonardo Garcia, founder of The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida, is pleased to announce the 2014 event committee for The 15th Annual Big Backpack Event. Celebrating 15 years and 30,000 smiles in 2014, the committee is gearing up for their biggest event ever. They are setting the bar high and hope to raise necessary funds to serve 2,500 deserving Lee County students in need with a new backpack and supplies to start the 2014/2015 school year with confidence and pride.

“It’s the dedicated support of our event committee that makes this outreach event such a success each year,” says Leonardo Garcia. “In our first year we served 100 students, then 500, 1,000 and 2,000+ in consecutive years, but with the vision and tireless efforts of our committee we will have served more than 30,000 students in need in our 15th year.”

The 2014 Big Backpack Event Committee Chairs and members are: Leonardo Garcia and Holly A. Bell are Event and Sponsorship Co-Chairs; Connie Ramos-Williams will serve as Media Chair; Jack Pohlman, Treasurer; Evelyn Rivera, Entertainment Chair; Ingrid Molina, Volunteer Chair; Felicita Sanyet, Church Outreach Chair; Javier Fuller, Security Chair; Holly A. Bell and Michael Boddy, Vendor Co-Chairs; Rick Williams at School Supply Chair and Dr. Ruthie Lohmeyer and Ronda Amaya, Schools Co-Chairs. The event committee also includes: Dr. Robert J. Brueck, Kenny Dobson, Sue Robbins, Vanessa Cardona, Maribel Sanchez, Beth A. Gedde, Lila Gutstein and Steven Orozco.

The Big Backpack Event is free to the community and will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 27 at the Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers. Guests will enjoy live multicultural youth entertainment on the main stage, including hip-hop, salsa, and Irish step dance. There will be inflatable bounce houses and slides, face painting, a book mobile, giveaways, and vendors. In addition, kids will receive free haircuts, eye exams, and fingerprinting.

In its first year, approximately 200 people attended the event, serving 100 children in need with back-to-school supplies and backpacks. The Multicultural Centre expects to serve 2,500 or more children aged five to 12 this year. In 15 years, the event will have served 30,000 needy students with school supplies and backpacks and near 300,000 parents and children with valuable educational and wellness services, multicultural entertainment and plenty of fun.

For more information on how to become an event sponsor, adopt a student, vendor or volunteer, please email or visit

“As the need in our community grows, the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida is pleased to step up to serve more children than ever before. Helping young people achieve success while celebrating diversity in the community is extremely gratifying for all of us involved,” Garcia said.

Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida
The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established in Fort Myers with the purpose of promoting programs aimed at bringing people of different cultures together and of culturally linking Southwest Florida with other communities around the world. For more information visit
This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.