We’re excited and proud to announce the winners of the 2015 UNICEF Hero Awards!

2015 was the 20th anniversary of Starwood’s partnership with UNICEF, and associates and guests across the Europe, Africa and Middle East region raised over $2 million for UNICEF’s work helping children to access clean water and safe sanitation across the Middle East and Africa. These funds were raised via 3 main fundraising streams – Check Out for Children, the guest facing fundraising program, where guests can leave $1 for UNICEF when they check out of participating hotels; Make A Green Choice, where guests can decline housekeeping services, and in return one of the benefit options is for the hotel to make a $5 (or $2.5 depending on the brand) donation to UNICEF on their behalf, and last but not least, Road to Awareness (R2A), Starwood’s annual internal associate fundraising campaign.

While all Starwood associates who helped fundraise for UNICEF last year are heroes, the Hero Award winners have been nominated by their peers to have all gone above and beyond for UNICEF, tirelessly organising R2A fundraising events, promoting Check Out for Children to guests, and ensuring their colleagues are up to date about the program.

All the winners of the Hero Awards have made a fantastic contribution to the partnership and shown true dedication, and we would like to congratulate you on your success!

Theresa Cramer, winner for the East-Central Europe region, is consistently coming up with new fundraising events and even helped organise an R2A cycle in Munich which raised almost €10,000. Ayrton Ramos and Frances Speedie, winners for Western Europe, are both committed fundraisers for UNICEF, and have created a wave of encouragement across all London associates to get involved with the partnership and the fundraising efforts. Maria Tazi from the Sheraton Casablanca has organised creative and stylish fundraising events such as the Fashion Show Kaftans – Haute Couture and she also ensures the Front Office teams are able to speak to guests about Check Out for Children and its projects. Florence Boulet at the EAME divisional office organised bake sales for six months and would ensure that every last piece was sold. For the Southern Europe region, the award went to the UNICEF Committee at the Florence Complex with over 20 nominations. Last but not least, the team at the Westin Abu Dhabi has shown incredible team spirit and come together to raise a huge amount for children.

As well as saying a huge thank you to the Hero Awards winners, we also want to recognise the hard work and extra effort our Regional Road to Awareness Champions put into the annual associate fundraising campaign - Marijo Ecaranum, Tiziana Tschudin, Shahenaz Melhuish, Gianfranco Masiero and Kam Hudson. These individuals don’t only help encourage participation in R2A across their regions, but they provide huge administrative support in collecting and tracking the fundraising results of the hotels and offices.

Without the hard work and enthusiasm from our UNICEF Heroes, Regional R2A Champions, guests and all the associates and teams throughout Europe, Africa and Middle East who help support the partnership, we could not have raised over $2 million for UNICEF throughout 2015. We thank you sincerely and know we can count on you to make 2016 just as great and continue to help UNICEF transform children’s lives around the world.

Keep fundraising in 2016! Just $1 is enough to provide 9 children with clean water for a month – with COFC and R2A you can help transform lives. Could you be the next UNICEF Hero?

Image copyright: © UNICEF/UNI115252/Asselin