Sell-Out Crowd Goes “Wild” for Cheryl Strayed at Women’s Leadership Luncheon

It was perfectly suiting that a crowd of nearly 1,100 women attended the Women’s Leadership Luncheon.

“1,100… One for each mile of the Pacific Crest Trail that I walked…”said Cheryl Strayed, keynote speaker and New York Times best-selling author of “Wild.”IMG_3562

More than 1,000 prominent Central Florida community leaders joined Strayed on Feb. 26 for the 8th Annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon hosted by Heart of Florida United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council. Strayed shared how hitting rock bottom led to an inspirational journey across the Pacific Crest Trail. The movie version of the book hit theaters in December and starred Reese Witherspoon as Strayed. The program highlighted the Women’s Leadership Council’s impact in local schools through videos (in case you missed it, click here to see the videos). Over the past year, 10 Title-I Orange County schools received an online reader program impacting more than 6,000 students. 163,000 books were opened and all schools made lexile gains.

“I was always poor growing up,” said Strayed. “I was one of those kids that United Way is helping.”

The event at the Hyatt Regency Orlando raised nearly $150,000, which will be invested in United Way’s local education and literacy initiatives. Luncheon supporters included gold sponsor Tupperware Brands Corporation and silver sponsors Fifth Third Bank, Lockheed Martin, Massey Services, Orlando Health, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Publix Super Markets, Sorensen Moving & Storing, University of Central Florida, Wells Fargo Financial, Florida Hospital, and media partners WFTV Family Connection, Orange Appeal and The Orlando Business Journal.IMG_3293

The Women’s Leadership Council strives to improve the Central Florida community, as well as expand educational opportunities. Chaired by retired banking executive Karen Dee and Vice Chair Pat Engfer, area vice president and general manager at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, the Council has more than 440 members who donate more than $830,000 annually.

“Each year, we’re grateful for esteemed speakers like Cheryl Strayed who advance our mission of supporting youth education,” Dee said. “We are also thankful that Heart of Florida United Way gives us a platform to raise awareness of critical issues impacting our community.”

Get a peek of all event photos on Facebook or Google+. Share using #WLL2015.IMG_3588



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