NAPLES — Retired Immokalee High School teacher Steve Becker swam the extra mile – actually, quite a few of them – and raised more than $16,000 in support of The Immokalee Foundation during The College of Florida’s Swim Around Key West event.
On June 12, Becker and his best friend from college, Ross Mlsna, swam more than 12 miles around the island to raise money in support of scholarships for Immokalee Foundation students. For some, the swim can take anywhere from four to eight hours to complete. To prepare, Becker swam two miles in a pool on weekdays, and four to six miles in the Gulf on weekends.
It was Becker’s seventh time swimming to benefit the foundation’s students. Becker and Mlsna achieved impressive results this year: they completed the swim in five hours and 20 minutes and placed second in the two-person male relay category.
Becker’s original goal was to raise $5,000, but thanks to generous contributions from the community, Becker has already more than doubled his goal.
Longtime foundation supporters Don and Ellen O’Neill donated $5,000 in celebration of Becker’s Swim Around Key West achievement.
“Ellen and I are delighted to support The Immokalee Foundation and Steve Becker’s extraordinary career and years of service to Immokalee schools,” said Don O’Neill.
The donations will be matched by the Florida Take Stock in Children program to benefit the foundation’s students. The Immokalee Foundation’s partnership with Take Stock in Children focuses on at-risk, low-income, academically qualified students by providing one-on-one support through volunteer mentors, college success services like SAT/ACT prep courses, and the opportunity to earn a college scholarship.
“A simple ‘thank you’ does not do justice to the meaning of supporters’ donations or the impact it has on students’ lives,” said Becker. “The generosity is a blessing that is paid forward as these students bring their knowledge and talents back to making an impact on their community.”
Becker has been an advocate for The Immokalee Foundation’s programs for more than 10 years as an instructor, mentor and fundraiser.
“I just really have a special affiliation with the foundation,” he said. “I love the work they do and love the people who are involved there.”
“Steve is a retired teacher, yet he continues to support his students with such passion and commitment,” said Melissa Phillips, vice president of philanthropy for the foundation. “He continues to lead by example and show the students what it means to succeed in such a spectacular way. Swimming around Key West is no small accomplishment.”
Although Becker’s swim is complete, you can still support his efforts and the foundation’s deserving students. To donate, visit https://immokaleefoundation.org/donate/, choose Scholarships as the program designation, and add “Swim Around Key West” in the comment field. Donations directly support student scholarships.
For more than 30 years, The Immokalee Foundation has provided a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit https://immokaleefoundation.org.