WAWA, Pa., Jan. 22, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Wawa and The Wawa Foundation are pleased to announce that in honor of the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary, Wawa will provide the organization with additional layers of support and funding throughout 2018.

The Special Olympics is a featured charity partner of The Wawa Foundation, and Wawa and The Wawa Foundation will continue the annual tradition of hosting a chain-wide, in-store fundraising campaign for the Special Olympics featuring a point-of-sale scan campaign launching January 22nd in all Wawa stores, as well as supporting several Polar Plunge events through in-kind donations and help from Wawa volunteers. In addition, for 2018 in honor of the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary, Wawa will be hosting special in-store events celebrating Special Olympics athletes and The Wawa Foundation will make a grant of $200,000 to support the Special Olympics’ Unified Sports programs in high schools across Wawa’s operating area. Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that unites Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) as teammates for training and competition.

“All of us at Wawa are proud to support the inspiring athletes of the Special Olympics and honor the heroes who have and will continue to change the game,” said Jay Culotta, President of The Wawa Foundation. “We’ve been partnering with the Special Olympics for many years and it’s exciting to be a part of their year-long 50th anniversary celebration.  Everyone can support these inspiring athletes by participating in our in-store campaign or by attending a Polar Plunge event in January or February.  We are also thrilled to provide an additional financial grant and events to round out the year to show our support for the Unified Sports initiative, something we are passionate about.”

About the In-Store Fundraising Efforts & Polar Plunge Support
From January 22nd to February 18th, all Wawa stores chain-wide will offer opportunities for customers to support the Special Olympics through donation boxes near the register and also through donations where customers can add $1, $3 or $5 donations to their purchase at the point of sale.

Wawa will also be continuing its support of the Special Olympics’ annual Polar Plunges throughout January and February, which allow participants to take a quick dip in frigid waters to raise funds for Special Olympics in their respective state. At each event, more than 50 Wawa volunteers will attend to help serve coffee and food, to cheer on athletes and plungers, and to take the plunge themselves!

During the course of its longstanding partnership with the Special Olympics, Wawa has raised more than $6 million in funding for the Special Olympics, along with donating a significant number of volunteer hours and countless cups of coffee and hot chocolate at local Polar Plunges.

Special Olympics Support throughout the Year to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary
In addition to in-store fundraising efforts and Polar Plunge support, Wawa will host several local community events throughout the year, including special events during this year’s Wawa Day, Wawa’s annual celebration marking Wawa’s entrance into the convenience store business. Held in the Spring each year, this year’s Wawa Day will celebrate the athletes participating in the Special Olympics Unified Sports programs. In June 2018, Wawa will host special “send-off” events in all six states of Wawa’s operating area to show support of the athletes and teams leaving to compete in the 50th Anniversary Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

About the Special Olympics and Wawa’s History
A Wawa community partner for more than 20 years, starting with New Jersey Special Olympics and now spanning its entire operating area of six states and the District of Columbia, and now an official national charity partner since the formation of The Wawa Foundation in 2014, the Special Olympics’ mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The organization provides continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

About The Wawa Foundation
The Wawa Foundation is an extension of Wawa’s commitment to making the world a better place by fulfilling customers’ lives every day. The Wawa Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded by Wawa, Inc. to support the company’s charitable giving and philanthropic activities – and ultimately to help build happier, stronger communities.  The Wawa Foundation focuses its supports on organizations committed to health, hunger, and everyday heroes through local, state, and national grants and / or in-store fundraising, such as donation boxes and point-of-purchase scan materials.

About Wawa, Inc.
Wawa, Inc., a privately held company, began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th Century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, PA in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, due to its quality, cleanliness and “certified” process. As home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960s, Grahame Wood, George’s grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products. Today, Wawa is your all day, every day stop for freshly prepared foods, beverages, coffee, fuel services, and surcharge-free ATMs. A chain of more than 790 convenience retail stores (over 575 offering gasoline), Wawa stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, and Florida. The stores offer a large fresh foodservice selection, including Wawa brands such as custom prepared hoagies, freshly-brewed coffee, hot breakfast sandwiches, specialty beverages, and an assortment of soups, sides and snacks. In 2016 and 2017, Wawa was recognized in Forbes as one of America’s Best Large Employers, a survey-based ranking of employers offering the best associate experiences and strongest opportunities. In 2017, Wawa was the recipient of a Silver Plate Award in the category of Retail & Specialty Foodservice by the International Foodservice Manufacturers’ Association during their 63rd Annual Award Event. Wawa was also designated as a 2017 Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

CONTACT:  public.relations@wawa.com