Smithfield’s Gwaltney brand donates playset to 5-year-old battling cancer

Published 4:27 pm Friday, September 16, 2022

On Sept. 15, employees of Smithfield Foods’ Gwaltney brand constructed a playset for a 5-year-old from Woodford fighting leukemia.

The project is part of Gwlatney’s “Building On Hope” partnership with the Roc Solid Foundation. The Chesapeake-based nonprofit organization supports children battling cancer by giving them opportunities to play. This is Gwaltney’s fifth consecutive year partnering with Roc Solid.

This year, Gwaltney pledged to donate $50,000 toward several Roc Solid initiatives, including sponsoring the organization’s inaugural “Play Defeats Cancer Tour,” which will build 30 playsets for families in 30 days across the country.

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Previously, on June 29, Gwaltney hosted a “Ready Bag” packing event at Smithfield Foods’ headquarters. These bags include comfort items and essentials for families whose children require hospitalization.

In addition to the Ready Bags, Gwaltney’s donation will provide three Roc Solid On Demand playsets and three Play It Forward playsets to families in the southeast.

“What it’s meant for Roc Solid to work with Gwaltney this year to bring this campaign to life is if you just stop and think about it, look at all the bags that we’ve been able to fulfill and look at all the playsets that we’ve allowed play to defeat cancer, and what that has allowed us to do is allow these families to forget about cancer just for a second, and that’s the significance of this partnership with Gwaltney,” said Eric Newman, Roc Solid’s founder and chief play officer.

“Having this build on our campus, I hope is the evidence to all the people here at Smithfield Foods that what we do is good, we’re not just chasing profit, but we’re chasing community, we’re chasing fellowship, and we’re chasing good,” said Glenn Nunziata, Smithfield Foods’ chief financial officer.

Five-year-old Grady and his family arrived at Smithfield Foods’ corporate headquarters in Smithfield for the playset reveal.

“I’m speechless almost to see all of these people here for a family they never met, to build this playset and it’s incredible,” said Daniele Burk, Grady’s mother. “You know you go through this journey and unfortunately you lose a lot of people you thought would stand by you and then to see the support of people that you don’t even know stand up for a family that they don’t even know is truly incredible.”

Newman, himself a pediatric liver cancer survivor, founded Roc Solid in 2009. Gwaltney, founded in 1870 by Smithfield’s P.D. Gwaltney, has operated as a Smithfield Foods brand since the early 1980s.