Bradenton-based retailer raises thousands for veterans, service dogs

Were you someone who purchased Reel Legends apparel on Veterans Day last year? You might’ve helped a local organization earn more than $20,000.

Bealls Inc. President Dan Love announced the results of the third annual Veterans Day Give Back event at the Bradenton-based company’s quarterly town hall meeting.

The retail chain had agreed to donate $1 for every Reel Legends item sold in stores and online on Nov. 10 and 11 in 2017 to the Southeastern Guide Dogs’ veterans program.

“We’re proud to announce that we’re giving the Southeastern Guide Dogs $20,103,” Love said to a packed auditorium.

As part of the presentation, Southeastern Guide Dogs introduced a 4-month-old puppy to the audience. The nonprofit allowed Bealls Inc. to give the puppy her name as appreciation for their continued support.

Her name is Bealla.

Karen Filips, communications director for Bealls Inc., said the two organizations have maintained a partnership since 2015. Bealls will receive puppy updates about Bealla as she undergoes guide dog training for the next two years.

The combined total from the Veteran’s Day fundraiser over the last three years is now greater than $65,000, Love said.

U.S. Air Force veteran and Southeastern Guide Dog graduate Morgan Watt gave a touching speech about how his service dog, Foley, has helped him deal with depression and a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

“I’m finding it easier to make connections with people ever since I started sharing my weaknesses instead of projecting my strengths,” Watt told the crowd.

Reel Legends is a Beall’s brand and that features activewear for men, women and children.

Ryan Callihan: 941-745-7095, @RCCallihan