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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Southwest Florida Children's Charities donates $200,000 to FGCU Music Therapy Program

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Helping children heal through the power of music is one of the goals of the Southwest Florida Children's Charities, which is donating $1 million over five years to help launch music therapy at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).

The organization presented a check Monday, April 22, for $200,000, the second annual installment for the Southwest Florida Children's Charities Music Therapy Program Endowed Fund.

Music therapy courses, which will be taught within FGCU's Bower School of Music, will address a growing need for professionals in the field and a gap in educational opportunities as few universities offer degree programs for this in-demand profession.

"Studies have shown that music therapy helps premature babies," said Dr. Steve Machiz, founder and chairman of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, the charities' signature fundraiser. "It helps babies leave the hospital sooner, is a stress reducer, stabilizes vital signs, improves the sucking reflex and leads to better weight gain and sleep."

"We're interested in doing whatever is possible to reduce their stress and increase their well being. Music therapy fits very nicely with our mission to help the children of Southwest Florida."

Research shows that music benefits people with autism and other neurological impairments. It is also helpful in soothing the autonomic nervous system and helps allay anxiety and depression.

"We are grateful to the community for making the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest such a success, and to the Southwest Florida Children's Charities for so generously supporting FGCU's music therapy program," said Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson G. Bradshaw, who serves as a trustee of the organization along with his wife, Jo Anna. The couple co-hosted a vintner dinner this year with FGCU Foundation board member emeritus Jim Knupp and his wife, Lynn. "The continuing support by Southwest Florida Children's Charities in developing an FGCU music therapy program will greatly benefit children in the years to come."

The Southwest Florida Children's Charities has donated nearly $5.25 million to local organizations since its inception. Its wine and food fest was ranked the third most profitable in 2012 by Wine Spectator magazine. The festival is sponsored by Northern Trust.

For more information, contact Linda Lehtomaa, interim vice president for Advancement, at (239) 590-1071.

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