Lee Boys & Girls Clubs in running for $5,000 'Wild Kingdom' prize

Insurance agent chose charity for Mutual of Omaha contest
Aug. 07, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Michelle Culler has a nephew who gets to spend most of his summer at the beach. Thinking about him got her to look at those around her who don’t get to make those kind of memories often.

“I have a nephew who's very privileged and has everything, and then I've seen kids who don't have anything,” she said. “For local children here, I would love to be able to give them something they won't forget.”

Culler, an insurance agent with Mutual of Omaha, is involved in a contest run by her company in which agents share their “Aha Moments,” and people can vote on them. The winner earns $5,000 cash for a charity of his or her choice, as well as a visit from trainers and animals from Mutual of Omaha’s "Wild Kingdom," a television show appearing on Animal Planet.

Culler wanted to do something different from the norm, so she picked the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sanford/Lee County as her charity.

“Everybody always chooses the cancer society or something to that effect,” Culler said. “You see [the kids], and you find out that they depend on the Boys & Girls Club for a lot of things, whether it be friendship or someone to help with their homework or activities.”

Culler contacted Sherry Shudra, the president of the board of volunteers at the club, about partnering with the organization.

“We were approached by Michelle Culler, and this is the first time that we’ve participated in this particular contest,” Shudra said. “It gives our kids an opportunity at the club, if Michelle wins, to see some species of animals that they’ve never seen before. It should be a great day for the kids at our club.”

Bo Hedrick, the chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sanford/Lee County, said he’s thankful for any help the club can get. The club serves more than 300 Lee County children during the school year and nine weeks during the summer.

“I'm very grateful for it, and I hope everybody gets behind it,” Hedrick said. “It would be very awesome if the children could receive it. The money would go directly into programming, directly into the kids.”

To vote for Culler and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sanford, go to Culler’s website at www.michelleculler.com, watch her “Aha Moments” and click the brown VOTE button. The contest ends Friday.

“They've never seen these kinds of animals up close and personal,” Culler said. “The most wonderful thing that could happen to me is that everybody gets together, presses the brown button and these kids get the Wild Kingdom.”

Shudra said she's encouraged by the initiative Culler showed in reaching out to the club and supporting the kids.

“I think that this is just another great example of a local business [person] showing support for our club,” she said. “It is a very caring and very giving community. It would mean $5,000 dollars, but it's a great example of what another local business person could do in our community.”