Page 14 - South Mississippi Living - March, 2023
P. 14

story and photo courtesy of
the Salvation Army
The Salvation Army Mississippi Gulf Coast Kroc Center is a community center where members can explore hobbies, grow their talents, and focus on their overall wellness goals. Mississippi houses one of 26 Kroc Centers in the United States. This facility is nestled in the heart of East Biloxi and includes the historic Yankie Stadium.
Kroc Centers were a vision of Joan Kroc, wife of the McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. One of her last visits to Biloxi resulted in her asking for a police escort to the most devastated locations on the Coast. The officer drove her to 575 Division Street, and this is where she chose to have her vision
of a community center,
complete with a pool and
art department, become
a reality, right here on the
Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“The Kroc Center is truly a beacon of
hope to those that utilize the facility and participate in its programs. I have seen the center’s various programming and staff change the lives of those that walk through the doors,” says Major Jerry Friday, Area Commander.
While, the building was funded
by Joan Kroc, the center must be supported by the local community. The Mississippi Gulf Kroc hosts “Taste
of South Mississippi,” an annual fundraising event benefiting the center’s youth programs and the scholarship fund. Community members come to taste samples from local restaurants, bid in a silent auction, and enjoy live entertainment.
Taste of South Mississippi
March 23, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Mississippi Gulf Coast Kroc Center
While February may be Rare Disease Month, the 6th Annual Zebra Run for Rare Disease takes place Saturday, March 4, at Fort Maurepas Park in Ocean Springs. The run benefits the United MSD Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding a cure for rare diseases such as Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency, the disease 9-year-old Willow Cannan was diagnosed with.
Ocean Springs resident Amber Olsen, Willow’s mother, is executive director and founder of the United MSD Foundation. She created the foundation shortly after Willow was diagnosed in 2016. The foundation is funding the final step before clinical trials and a toxicology study, and the family fun Zebra Run is crucial to fundraising efforts.
“Clinical trials are the light at the
end of the tunnel,” Olsen said. “With clinical trials, we can give a plan to
newly diagnosed families. They are the difference between life and death for these children. Being able to offer a clinical trial will help these children lead a life without limitations.”
Five-year-old Jett Burke, who himself has a rare disease, is this year’s race chairman, taking on the role in memory of his mother, Amanda Burke, who recently passed away. On race day, on-site registration opens at 7:30 a.m. There is also a virtual component to the race.
For more event information or to register for the in-person run or the virtual event, visit
 story by Lori Beth Susman photo courtesy of the United MSD Foundation
  14 | March 2023 | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living

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