Community Engagement

On more than one occasion, we’ve bridged the gap among individuals, civic groups and business/other interests in the Greater Orlando community on key policy issues to procure successful results.


Dick Batchelor Run for the Children

The Dick Batchelor Run for the Children is Orlando's longest running 5k!

About this Event

The 33rd Annual Dick Batchelor Run for the Children 5k benefits The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, part of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Proceeds from the run help support child abuse prevention and treatment, early intervention services for children with developmental delays and free healthcare for uninsured teens.

Become an Honorary Child Advocate

We encourage you to become an Honorary Child Advocate at time of registration by donating an extra $10. For your donation, you will receive an exclusive souvenir race number. Each dollar raised here will go straight to families in Central Florida served through the Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families! Honorary Child Advocate donations do not count toward your overall fundraising goal.

Date, Time & Location

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Registration: 6:00 am - 7:00 am
Opening Ceremony: 7:00 am
5k (3.1 miles): 7:15 am
Kids’ Fun Run: 8:30 am
Awards Ceremony: 9:00 am

Universal Orlando® Resort
1000 Universal Studios Plaza
Orlando, FL 32819


Change 4 Kids 2002

Today, Orange County Public Schools and its capital program are the envy of the State of Florida thanks to the compassion and leadership of Dick Batchelor. Bill Sublette Chair, Orange County School Board

As board member of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, I recognized that the public school system had two main construction challenges. First, the Orange County Public School System had so many students that they needed to build 50 new schools, but had only enough money to build 25 schools. There was no dedicated funding source to build the other 25 schools, to accommodate the needs of all students. Second, and as important to me, there were about 136 schools that were in some state of disrepair, some minor, some very major, including some that needed to be totally replaced. A good number of these schools also happened to be in some of the poorest districts.

After six referendum efforts had failed to generate some level of taxation to support public schools, I volunteered to create and lead Change 4 Kids. This effort engaged, in the broadest sense of the word, the communities at large to garner support for a half-penny sales tax in Orange County. I raised more than half a million dollars for the campaign, but this was not a solo effort. Working with myriad organizations and people to engage the community, we brought together hundreds of individuals representing hundreds of organizations. In doing so, we were able to get the business community, the civic community, the school system, the parent-teacher organizations (PTAs), and labor unions – as a disparate a group as you could define – to set aside their differences and focus on this one need for the children.

In fact, at our first meeting we had the Associated General Contractors and the Associated Building Contractors, but we also had the Building Trade Union and the Teachers Union. My approach was simple: “Look, we’re going to set aside our differences and focus on this one need for the children. I guarantee you, when the polls close on September the 10th at 7 p.m., you can go back to fighting each other. This referendum has to pass.”

The real success here was getting these very divergent communities to be engaged – keeping in mind that only 25 percent of the people in Orange County have kids in public school. But we were able to bring these very different groups together, including labor unions with business organizations, teachers with parents, political leaders, and the communities at large who had no children in public school, to demonstrate the absolute need that, short of a half-penny sales tax, these schools would continue to fall down.

Ultimately, the referendum passed with almost 60 percent of the vote, and, once passed, the half- penny sales tax was projected to raise more than $2 billion to construct new schools and refurbish old schools. That year, the Orlando Sentinel named me “Central Floridian of the Year” for my successful efforts.

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My concern for children and the children's well-being also extends into environmental matters, specifically as they impact children’s health. For instance, I serve as vice-chairman for a national group called Children’s Environmental Health Network, a group that identifies environmental factors that inordinately impact children (such as lead, mercury, asthma, and endocrine disruptors) and seeks to draft appropriate preventative legislation and rules to protect them.

Recently, we worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt more protective environmental standards and policies, specifically those dealing with air and/or water pollution and dangerous levels of chemical exposures. Because of our efforts, we were able to get a Presidential Executive Order from the White House creating an Office of Children’s Health Protection within the EPA at the national level.

I also served as Chairman of the Florida Environmental Regulatory Commission (ERC) from 1991 to 1997. In that role, working with other members of the commission, we adopted more stringent rules protective of the environment, specifically those dealing with water and air quality that effect everyone’s health and well-being. The ERC also adopted rules and standards dealing with landfill designs and wetlands protection, among others. One of the most important rules we put in place was to regulate the mercury content in the Florida Everglades, protecting the fragile environment from excess damage.

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Children and Youth Cabinet

Because of my longtime involvement as a child advocate, I was appointed by former Governor Charlie Christ to the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Youth, a statutorily created body. That role offered a significant forum to continue advocating for children's needs.

As a member of the Cabinet, I was very vocal on the need to increase funding for children's programs in such a way that the funding would be cost-avoidance in nature – the children should get the services earlier in life, so as to mitigate against more serious costs later on.

For the past 30 years I have also sponsored a 5K run to support the Howard Philips Center, raising more than $1.3 million to treat abused children in Central Florida.


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Domestic Violence Commission

Another passion of mine is assisting victims of domestic violence. Because of that passion, for a number of years I have co-chaired and continue to co-chair the Domestic Violence/Child Abuse Commission – a group that makes recommendations to improve services to victims of abuse and to reduce the number of cases of domestic violence and child abuse.

As a commission, we recognized the extraordinary number of domestic violence cases and related homicides in Central Florida. Together, we decided that Orange County needed domestic violence courts to hear the growing number of cases we were seeing and, with my help, we successfully advocated for the creation of four domestic violence courts in the 9th Judicial Circuit. Once the domestic violence courts were in place, we began to see a reduction in the extraordinary backlog of cases in both the civil and criminal courts, allowing these cases to be heard sooner and with greater specialized attention.

In addition to co-chairing the DV/CA Commission, I also serve on the Advisory Board of Harbor House of Central Florida, a domestic violence shelter for abused women and children, and Court Watch, an advocacy group that monitors the courts on behalf of domestic violence victims. Statewide, I continue to be involved as a board member with Florida Children's First, a statewide child advocacy group focusing on the needs of children in foster care, and I continue to do pro-bono lobbying, locally and in Tallahassee, to secure funding for these groups and other programs that deal with domestic violence and child abuse.

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