A Slice of Kindness: How Florida Native Regan Stachler Used Pizza to Help Those in Need After Hurricane Ian
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in 2022, Regan Stachler, a Florida native who now resides in North Carolina, witnessed the devastating impact on his hometown of Fort Myers Beach. His concern extended to his friends and family – including his brother, Matt – and led to a story of incredible kindness.
When we heard about Regan’s heroic efforts to help those displaced by the hurricane, we wanted to share his experiences as part of our WOW project. Started in 2022, WOW is all about community engagement and reimagining the relationship we have with our customers, as well as marking important milestones, both big and small.
For Regan, as with most Floridians, hurricanes are standard fare, especially if you live on or near the beach; most people board up their houses and wait it out. With Ian, however, things got serious: the storm was a dangerous category 5 and would become the deadliest to strike Florida since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.
Regan, a semi-retired chef, vividly remembers watching the hurricane approach his childhood home, and on September 28th, he witnessed the beginning of the destruction on the news.
As he watched, concerns for his loved ones consumed him and he kept thinking, "What can I do?" and "How can I make a difference?"
With a deep-rooted care for others and a love language centered around food, Regan found inspiration in pizza. He told Matt that he was going to come to Fort Myers Beach and make pizza for anyone who needed a hot meal.
Initially, he considered utilizing a commercial kitchen for his mission. However, he soon realized that his portable Ooni was a better option and would allow him to bake pizzas on the go – "I can literally put it behind my seat in my truck," he explained.
The night before his journey, Regan prepared a massive dough ball, the largest one he’d ever made or seen, nearly covering the entire surface of his kitchen counter.
When he got to Fort Myers Beach, he taught others how to make pizza, only to discover that they were more excited to help than he’d anticipated. They adopted a tailgating-style approach, setting up an assembly line for rolling out dough, and applying sauce and toppings. Even children eagerly participated in the process.
Not only did they organize a tailgating event, but they also traveled around distributing pizzas to those in need. And while memories of that time are filled with pain, they also hold the joy of shared experiences and the knowledge that, through acts of kindness, we can all make a difference in the lives of others.
“I love watching people happy with food,” said Regan. “If that’s what I can do to make you happy, that’s what I do.”