Cleveland business leader Debbie Melton will serve as community chair of the 2015 Great Strides walk for cystic fibrosis (CF), according to campaign officials at Lee University. The 15th annual walk and 5K road race will be held Saturday, March 28.“Debbie Melton is one of the finest young business leaders I know,” said Lee president Paul Conn. “She has such high credibility in this community, not just for her business success, but also for her leadership in civic projects. I’m thrilled that she has agreed to lead our team in the 2015 Great Strides event.”Melton, a Cleveland native, is the general manager and a partner at Don Ledford Automotive Center in Cleveland. After earning the Chevrolet brand from General Motors (GM), she supervised a major construction project to refurbish the current dealership location, its showroom and customer service areas. She is actively involved in her industry on the local, state, and national levels. She was one of eight women elected to the Women’s Dealer Advisory Council (WDAC), an organization to facilitate efforts of GM in attaining its goals across the country. A lifetime member of Junior Auxiliary, Melton currently serves as president of the Bradley-Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, and is on the Board of Directors for Diaper Love of Bradley County and the Salvation Army in addition to being a former board member of the Museum Center at 5ive Points. She is currently in her fifth year of work with United Way, having co-chaired the Capital Funds Campaign in 2011. She was awarded Cleveland’s Women Empowerment Award in 2011 and the Chamber’s annual Mel Bedwell Small Business Award in 2012. Melton and her family are members at First United Methodist Church, where she serves as director of the bell choir. She and her husband Ken have triplets: Will, Jessica, and Ella Marie.“I am humbled and honored to be asked to be the community chair for Great Strides,” said Melton. “This opportunity has opened my eyes on how much effort it takes for a person to live that has this disease. I want to be a small part of supporting the efforts of all to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. My heart has been changed forever! God Bless these children.”The Great Strides event will mobilize hundreds of community participants and Lee University students to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 2014, the event drew over 330 walkers representing 33 teams, 680 5K and fun run participants and over 150 volunteers to the downtown festivities. More than $80,000 was raised for CF research. The Cleveland Great Strides is sponsored jointly by Lee University students and a group of community volunteers. Serving with Melton to lead the effort are Lee administrators Dr. Mike Hayes, vice president of student development, and Vanessa Hammond, who directs the school’s office of grants.The 65 Roses 5K road race will be directed by Dr. Bill Estes, dean of the Helen DeVos College of Education at Lee. The route for the 2014 walk and 5K run (3.1 miles) will begin and end on the Lee campus and will travel throughout Cleveland’s historic downtown area. The road race begins at 8:30 am and the walk at 10 a.m. Great Strides is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraiser, raising more than $42 million in 2014 and involving over 125,000 people at nearly 600 walk sites across the country.“Great Strides provides a fantastic opportunity for family, friends, students, co-workers and colleagues to come together in support of a worthy cause,” said Leigh Ellington, development director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “We are blessed by the continuous support from the Cleveland and Bradley County community to fulfill our mission of finding a cure and improving the quality of life of those with the disease.”More information about the Cleveland Great Strides is available by calling Rosie Adams, walk coordinator, at 614-8406 or at the local Great Strides website at www.leeuniversity.edu/cf.
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