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Lucas Benitez is seen leading a March for Dignity for farmworkers that began on the streets of Immokalee and culminated on the streets of Orlando in front of the offices of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association in this Florida Catholic file photo from 2000.

Editor’s note: The Long-Sleeve Relief Drive is a campaign that promotes awareness of issues concerning farmworkers and offers a venue to financially help aid agencies empower the farmworker community. One agency is the the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has been on the forefront of farmworker advocacy since it was founded in 1993 by a small group of farmworkers. One of those workers was Lucas Benitez. In honor of Long Sleeve Relief, we asked Benitez to reflect on his years of service. 

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A young Lucas Benitez is seen in 1998 with the late Bishop John Nevins of Venice. The two struck up a friendship and Bishop Nevins was a staunch and outspoken advocate for farmworkers. In one of his last public appearances before retiring, Bishop Nevins visited Our Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee and baptized one of Benitez's children. 

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Lucas Benitez, right, and his two sons receive a blessing from Bishop John Noonan of Orlando in Lakeland after the 200-mile “March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food” event in 2013 aimed at increasing awareness of farmworker issues, namely poor working conditions and low pay. The march started in Fort Myers and ended in Lakeland hoping to convince Publix officials to join the Fair Food Program.

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