SANTA ROSA BEACH — After helping victims of Hurricane Michael, South Walton County resident Molly Caplenor will toss the coin at the 2019 Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.
Caplenor took in survivors, handed out supplies days after Hurricane Michael hit Oct. 10. She also has started a project called THRIVE that will use proceeds from summer and spring tourist activity to help with recovery.
“I know it’s an honor. It comes with a responsibility,” Caplenor said. “I’m an avid football fan. It’s a dream of an opportunity to be able to participate in something like this. I hope to represent the Panhandle and my neighborhood well.”
Caplenor lives in the Old Florida Village community of County Road 30A, where her neighbors also took in displaced people. Caplenor initially drove into Panama City with supplies after Michael make landfall, and decided she would also help from her home after seeing the devastation in Callaway and eastern Bay County.
Caplenor took in a family who wanted a hot shower and some rest. That moment stuck with her and motivates her continuing efforts.
As the Citrus Bowl approaches, Caplenor said she is humbled and emotional “in a good way.” She strives to be a symbol of how the community can come together.
“I’ve thought about and done a lot of crazy things, but flipping a coin at a college game was not one of them,” she said.
The Citrus Bowl will air live on ABC and played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.