Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest poster features child artist’s vision

Sophia Black, Ellen SheppardFlowers, football players, teddy bears and race cars have all had their days as the stars of the official posters for the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. Now a cat – specifically a brave warrior cat – will star on the poster for the annual fundraiser sponsored by SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.

The 2015 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest takes place Feb. 27 and 28, and 10-year-old Sophia Black, from Sanibel, is the 2015 featured artist. She created artwork for this year’s poster with encouragement and guidance of well-known local artist Ellen Sheppard, who recently invited Sophia to her garage studio to draw her creation.

Sophia had a very clear vision of what she would draw before she stepped into the artist’s Fort Myers studio. She came armed with a notebook full of sketches of her version of the solar system, which consists of planets primarily populated with cats that stand upright like people.

Sheppard was impressed with Sophia’s passion and the amount of artwork she’d already created. She volunteers at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, helping youngsters express themselves artistically while they are treated for their illnesses.

“I’ve always liked working with children of all ages,” Sheppard said, standing in front of a wall full of posters featuring the drawings of previous years’ child artists. “The money it has raised is tremendous, but it’s also about them. It’s their day.”

Sophia, the daughter of A.J. and Jolie Black, has been undergoing treatment at Golisano for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer. Her artwork, done in colored pencils, features a female warrior cat with blue-shadowed eyes, pink ears and long brown hair, just like Sophia used to have. She’s standing serenely in a lush green lawn surrounded by flowers, a blue sky and butterflies.

“I like to draw because I can really express my imagination,” Sophia said. “The cat in my drawings represents calm freedom.”

Sophia says being selected as the wine festival featured artist was a surprise but a good one, “It’s really cool. I’ve never had an honor like this before.”

Her drawing will be put up for bid during the live auction, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 28. The 2014 artwork, a drawing of a race car by 9-year-old Jay Aponte, generated $180,000 in bids of $5,000 or more from individuals at the event.

Each of the original works by the young artists have been donated to the hospital and is displayed on a wall named in memory of Jerry Schmoyer, a longtime Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest supporter, who lost his battle with cancer three years ago. All of the winning bidders’ names are listed next to the artwork. In the past three years, the children’s art has raised more than $455,000.

“Having one of the children we are working so hard to help participate in the event is so meaningful,” said Elaine Hawkins, who co-chairs the event for the second year with Dorothy Fitzgerald. “It has a powerful impact on donors, who respond with an abundance of generosity.”

Asked how she feels about the hospital, Sophia said, “Everyone is always so nice there. They always try to do the best for you. I want to say thank you for everything. And to other kids going there, I would tell them ‘everything is going to be OK.’”

Her mother, Jolie Black, says the hospital has been a godsend for the whole family.

“As a parent, it’s been so comforting to have a team of pediatric experts like those at Golisano caring for Sophia,” she said. “An added bonus is that we don’t have to travel away from home to receive this kind of high-quality care.”

The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest is a two-day signature event of SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides funding to local charities serving local children. Exceptional Chef Vintner Dinners held in host homes from Naples to Captiva are followed by a Grand Tasting and Auction the next afternoon at Miromar Lakes Beach Clubhouse. Funds raised during the auction directly benefit the charities; more than $11.6 million has been raised during the past six years. The primary charity is the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Also benefiting are Florida SouthWestern State College’s pediatric nursing program and Florida Gulf Coast University’s music therapy program.

This year’s event will feature chef vintner dinners Friday, Feb. 27, and the Grand Tasting and Auction Saturday, Feb. 28. For details, contact SWFL Children’s Charities Inc. at 239-513-7990, email info@swflwinefest.org, or visit www.swflwinefest.org.

 

Contact:

Laurel Smith, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and PR, 239-275-5758, laurel@gsma.pro

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SWFL Children’s Charities donates $100,000 to FSW’s School of Health Professions

check-presentation

SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., organizer of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, presented a generous gift of $100,000 to the School of Health Professions at Florida SouthWestern State College.

The gift, which will directly benefit the college by providing new technology and student scholarships, was presented by SWFL Children’s Charities trustees and event co-chairs Elaine Hawkins and Dorothy Fitzgerald from the nonprofit organization on Aug. 7.

“The FSW Foundation is committed to strengthening educational programs that support our local economy by soliciting investment opportunities for new technology that better prepare our graduates,” said Dr. Louis J. Traina, vice president of institutional advancement at FSW. “It’s the support from local foundations like the SWFL Children’s Charities that makes it all possible.”

“Students who graduate from the School of Health Professions are part of the driving force of our local economy, not only providing vital services to the public but choosing to live and raise families here in Southwest Florida,” said Dr. Jeff Allbritten, president of FSW. “With this generous gift from the SWFL Children’s Charities, we will continue to ensure that graduates are highly skilled when they step foot into this growing job market.”

The gift came at an opportune moment as FSW invests in new technology to keep nursing education cutting edge while also satisfying recent state legislation that permits an increase in the total clinical training that can be achieved through simulation, from 25 to 50 percent.

“We like to give to organizations that make a difference in our community,” said Hawkins. “Seeing the enthusiasm for the new technology and how it benefits our community is what motivates the Wine Fest trustees to keep giving year after year.”

The FSW School of Health Professions offers two bachelor’s degrees, 11 associate’s degrees, and six certificate programs, preparing local students with the credentials to work in nearly every health-related field.

Dr. Marie Collins, dean of the School of Health Professions, said that the gift from SWFL Children’s Charities will support nursing, respiratory care and dental hygiene clinical education in the areas of pediatric and obstetric care. The college will specifically use the gift to invest in:

  • Scholarships for nursing, respiratory care and dental hygiene students
  • A birthing mother and newborn simulator
  • A pediatric simulator
  • A mechanical ventilator for skills practice on pediatric patients
  • A panograph X-ray machine for pediatric patients treated at the Dental Hygiene Clinic

“Clinical and lab fees are necessary to support the complex needs of health professions programs. These fees quickly add up. Scholarships are critical for our students so they can focus less on the financial aspects and focus more on obtaining the highest level of clinical competency and experiences.” said Collins.

According to Collins, simulations at FSW ensure that every student receives an equal and consistent educational experience.

“We all benefit from health care and education,” added Fitzgerald. “They are the fundamentals of any great community.”

“Through the use of simulation education, we can guarantee that every student has equal experiences with medical scenarios such as complications which may occur during and immediately after birth. These simulated scenarios may be repeated over and over again to allow students to gain the skills and confidence needed for optimal real world patient care.”

Over the last six years, SWFL Children’s Charities has raised more than $11.6 million in donations to benefit only three local charities serving children: The Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, the Music Therapy Program at Florida Gulf Coast University and the Pediatric Nursing Program at Florida SouthWestern State College.

Florida SouthWestern State College is Southwest Florida’s largest and one of the most affordable institutions of higher education. Annually serving more than 22,000 students globally, FSW offers a variety of nationally ranked, career-focused academic programs with two- and four-year degrees, and professional certifications. Students are also active in clubs and programs catered to their interests. FSW will debut its intercollegiate athletics program in the fall 2015. Visit www.FSW.edu for more information.

SWFL Children’s Charities Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides funding to local children’s causes through its two-day signature event, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. The 2015 event is slated for Feb. 27 and 28. For additional information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.

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Calendar Announcement/Save the Date: 2015 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest

What:
The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest is a two-day signature event of the SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides funding to local charities serving local children.

Extraordinary Chef Vintner Dinners held in host homes from Naples to Captiva are followed by a Grand Tasting and Auction the next afternoon at Miromar Lakes Beach Clubhouse.

Funds raised during the auction directly benefit the charities; more than $11.4 million has been raised over the last six years. The primary charity is the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Also benefiting are Florida SouthWestern State College’s pediatric nursing program and Florida Gulf Coast University’s music therapy program.

When:
Feb. 27 and 28, 2015
Chef Vintner Dinners: Friday, Feb. 27
Grand Tasting and Auction: Saturday, Feb. 28
Grand Tasting      Noon-1:30 p.m.
Auction                   2-4 p.m.

Where:
Beach Clubhouse at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club
10160 Miromar Lakes Blvd. East
Miromar Lakes, FL  33913

Co-chairs:
Elaine Hawkins and Dorothy Fitzgerald

Tickets:
$1,500 per person for both events, Vintner Dinner and Grand Tasting & Auction
$500 per person for Grand Tasting & Auction
Underwriting and sponsorship opportunities are available

Info:
SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., 239-513-7990, info@swflwinefest.org, www.swflwinefest.org

Contact:
Sharon Arnold, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and PR, 239-275-5758, sharon@gsma.pro

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In the News: SWFL Wine and Food Fest

The News-Press: About 375 guests enjoyed culinary creations poolside Saturday at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club. A dozen chefs prepared gourmet bites and vintners poured glasses of their finest wines during the Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest’s Grand Tasting.

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In the News: 2014 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest

The-Banner: Scenes from the 2014 Southwest FloridaWine & Food Fest at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club in Fort Myers on Saturday, Feb. 22. The annual event raised $2.5million for SWFL Children’s Charities, whose main beneficiary is the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

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In the News: Wine & Food Fest raises $2.5 million for Golisano Children’s Hospital

Florida Weekly: Top-flight wines and gastronomic delights. Flawless weather. Ravens cheerleaders, shaking and stirring. Add in some 375 people who opened their hearts and wallets and the result is that the 2014 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest raised a stunning $2.5 million to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

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In the News: Good people aid good cause

The News-Press: The work, treatment and care done at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is so important. Young lives are given hope. Young lives are saved.

The generous giving from people within our community to make sure Golisano receives the money needed for a world-class facility outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment is just as important. There was no bigger example of that giving than what happened Saturday at the 2014 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest Grand Tasting & Auction. The event at Miromar Lakes Golf & Country Club raised an incredible $2.5 million, not only for Golisano but also the pediatric nursing program at Edison State College and the music therapy program at FGCU.

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In the News: Raising glasses, money for the sake of children

Naples Daily News: Simply astounding.

Or, as an event organizer put it: “Between the Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders and the good wine and people who care about children, it’s the perfect storm.”

So said Todd Gates amid the excitement of the weekend’s Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest that raised more than $2.5 million in support of causes topped by Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and medical training programs at Edison State College and Florida Gulf Coast University.

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In the News: Auction sets new record: $2.5M

Naples Daily News: The nature of the charities —helping children and families get high quality local pediatric health care — is what makes the event extra special, she said.

“It’s the circle of giving and the circle of life that have come together,” Fitzgerald said. “The wine and the food is just to entertain ourselves,but this is all about giving and giving from your heart.”

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In the News: Money flows freely at auction

The News-Press: Raising $20,000 at a function for any charity is enough to excite a room, but raising that amount on top of last year’s record of $2.5 million had the crowd at the 2014 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest Grand Tasting & Auction jumping out of their seats.

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