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United Way teams up with race-car driver Hurley Haywood

Along with his competitive streak, being known as cool, calm, and collected while hurtling around a race track at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour are traits attributed to driving legend Hurley Haywood. St. Augustine nonprofits gained additional insight into the nature of this community resident, and subject of the upcoming movie release Hurley, when Haywood recently showcased a more personal side, his compassionate and generous nature.

Working with United Way of St. Johns County, Haywood and Steve Hill, member of the organization's Board of Directors, spearheaded efforts to raise funds for local nonprofits during the St. Augustine Film Festival screening in January. Recipients, chosen by Haywood and Hill, were identified because program services aligned with the message in the movie and addressed causes that the two care deeply about.

Receiving over $20,000 each, were EPIC Behavioral Healthcare and St. Francis House - Port in the Storm. Funds directed to Port in the Storm will be used to provide case management services to homeless youth and safe overnight-shelter. EPIC will use the funds to enhance and increase suicide prevention efforts by increasing both prevention training and instructors, and by providing mental health counseling for uninsured individuals who are feeling suicidal.

"If more people knew what to look for in terms of suicide signs and symptoms and felt more comfortable offering help, more lives could be saved," shared EPIC Development Director, Teresa Andrews, after screening the movie and learning that Hurley's racing partner and friend died by suicide.

At United Way, our charge is to find the intersect between personal challenges and community needs," said Melissa Nelson, President and CEO. "On the surface, the movie may be about the world of 1970s motor racing with a five-time 24 Hours of Daytona winner, three-time Le Mans winner and Trans-Am champion, but it is also the vehicle for a personal story filled with challenges. That story, combined with the generosity of Hurley and Steve, allows us to address our community needs and I think that warrants a victory lap."