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Ashley Children's Gasparilla Presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay Announces 2022 Community Hero

Today, Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), and EventFest announced that a child life specialist from AdventHealth Tampa, Michele Axford, will be recognized as the 2022 Ashley Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay Community Hero.

For more than 20 years, Axford has been an advocate and supportive resource for the children under her care. Focused on providing the best care for children, she helps young patients and their families navigate the challenges of surgeries and treatments and employs atraumatic care principles in everyday practices. For Axford, it’s about providing calm and comfort during an uncertain time. During the holidays, Axford ensures that hospitalized pediatric patients experience the same costumes, candy, and joy when they are unable to be at home.

Axford’s care for children is also evidenced outside of her direct patients. Her expertise was invaluable for the children of AdventHealth Tampa team members throughout the pandemic. While parents worked long shifts, Michele provided support and guidance. In the same way, she provides assistance to the children of adult patients coping with their illness and hospitalization.

"YMKG and Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay are proud to recognize and support community members who create a culture of care," said Captain Peter Lackman of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. "It's our privilege to recognize Michele Axford for her continuous efforts to leave a lasting impact on young patients as she strives to make their hospital stay as warm and comforting as possible."

The 75th anniversary of the Children’s Gasparilla, a family-friendly and alcohol-free celebration, is set to take place on Saturday, January 22, beginning at 3:30 pm. As Community Hero, Axford will lead more than 100 parade floats, krewes, marching bands, dance units, school organizations and community groups down a one-and-a-half-mile route along Tampa’s famed Bayshore Boulevard.

Ticket packages are available for the Ashley Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay. To purchase, visit GasparillaTreasures.com. You can also follow the Gasparilla celebrations on social media (@GasparillaTampa).

The Ashley Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-fil-A Tampa Bay and Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest are marketed, managed and produced annually by EventFest, Inc.

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