By Darby Underwood
Southeastern Grocers Community Connections
Alabama, West Georgia and Northwest Florida
Although the definition for “family” is a group of people who are related to each other, the associates at Winn-Dixie No. 543 in Selma, Alabama, are demonstrating it can mean much more as they help a co-worker fight an illness.
Kay Wilson has worked at Winn-Dixie No. 543 since 2009. She started as a part-time cashier and diligently worked her way up to center store lead, developing close relationships and family-like bonds with other associates.
“We all know each other really well—we know what’s going on at home, if someone’s sick, if there’s something wrong,” Wilson said.
On Oct. 14, 2014, Wilson was diagnosed with colon cancer. After undergoing two surgeries, she beat the disease. However, six months later, she was told she had breast cancer.
Wilson had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in August, and while she’s healing, she has a long road to recovery—including 29 radiation sessions.
To show their support and help cover medical costs, Winn-Dixie No. 543 held a fundraising barbecue for Wilson, appropriately named the “Kay Wilson Benefit.”
“Kay is a hard worker, team player and a great person to have at our store,” said Larry Crane, store No. 543 director. “She has put up such a fight and continues to every day. We wanted to find a way to rally behind our co-worker, our friend, by doing something special to help her out.”
Associates wore T-shirts that featured two ribbons: a blue one to represent Wilson’s fight with colon cancer and a pink ribbon for breast cancer. Service Area Manager Amanda Lucia contacted Wilson’s relatives in Illinois and had shirts sent to them to take pictures in, which were then displayed at the benefit as a surprise.
The benefit raised more than $4,200.
“To know they care so much about me to set the whole thing up and to get my family in Illinois involved meant a lot to me,” said Wilson. “I knew they cared about me, but I had no idea how much.”
Wilson said the prayers and encouragement she receives from the Winn-Dixie No. 543 team, whom she considers her family, keep her going through the struggle. She said she can’t wait until the day when she is healthy enough to work again, and, in her words, go home to her family.
“The people at that store are my motivation—my comfort, and I hope I’m able to go home soon,” Wilson said.
Winn-Dixie No. 543 team in Selma, Ala. raised more than $4,200 to help co-worker Kay Wilson with medical expenses during her fight with colon and breast cancer.