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Island Gala raises $65K for domestic animal care

By Staff | Mar 30, 2011

At the Second Annual Island Gala, a fundraiser for The Onyx & Breezy Foundation, are, from left, Wendy Liebman, Wanda Shefts, Ken and Linda Howard.

It was an evening of wining and dining, of laughter and dancing, all for a wonderful cause.

The Second Annual Island Gala, a fundraiser for The Onyx & Breezy Foundation, debuted at The Sanctuary Golf Club on Sunday night, where 155 guests lent their support for the charity created to protect the well-being of domestic animals.

The event included a performance by comedienne Wendy Liebman, winner of the American Comedy Award for “Best Female Stand-Up,” and actor Ken Howard, national spokesman and executive board member for Foundation.

“These days, people want to know where and how their donations are being spent,” said Howard, current president of the Screen Actors Guild. “You can feel comfortable knowing your dollars are going to the care of the animals that so desperately need it.”

The Onyx & Breezy Foundation, created in 2004 by part-time island residents Mark and Wanda Shefts to honor the memory of their two labrador retrievers, assists domestic animals in a variety of ways. The foundation lends financial support to the funding of equipment for medical facilities, much needed research and organizations that benefit animals.

During the live auction, Jean Baer, right, served as auction while Ken Howard described each item.

In addition, it helps provide medical treatment for animals where hardship is present as well as other endeavors that benefit the welfare of animals.

“The island has really gotten behind our cause, I think, because nobody else here is supporting the welfare of domestic animals,” said Wanda Shefts. “Every dollar that we raise, through fundraising efforts like the Island Gala, goes towards helping animals in Lee County. In a way, we feel like we’re a compliment to organizations like CROW. They help the animals in the wild, and we help the animals in your home.”

Master of Ceremonies Robert Van Winkle began the evening by introducing Mark Shefts, who told the attendees that they were in for a special night.

“I know we’re going to have a fun time. As I like to say, my wife knows how to throw a party,” said Shefts. “We’ve been here for seven years, and this is such a wonderful island. We know that in season, you could probably attend a fundraiser every weekend, so we are very appreciative of everybody being here tonight and supporting the foundation.”

A short video presentation featuring Howard, along with several members of the Lee County Domestic Animal Services and Animal Rescue Center staffs, shared stories of how the foundation has helped their organizations and individuals who own animals in Lee County. After dinner, the live auction began.

Comedienne Wendy Liebman had the crowd laughing from start to finish.

“I think it’s great that we have an auctioneer that doesn’t chew tobacco and isn’t called Bubba,” joked Howard, who assisted live auction hostess Jean Baer in drawing bigger bids out of the crowd. Among the auction items offered was a sunset cruise with cocktails for four people, a Charles Krypell sterling silver and 14k green gold amethyst bracelet, a vacation package to Snowmass Village, Co. and a gourmet dinner for four with Ken Howard and his wife, Linda, at the Shefts’ residence.

Liebman, who has appeared on “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “Comic Relief VII,” performed a 45-minute set filled with hilarious one-liners and humorous observations about life, love and traveling the stand-up circuit.

Among her funniest one-liners:

“I went to a doctor that I really didn’t like, so I just started eating apples every day.”

“I just bought myself a three-piece bikini — a top, a bottom and a blindfold for you to wear.”

Mark Shefts thanked everyone in attendance for supporting their cause.

“I was going to exercise at the hotel, but it was too fancy. They had a spiral stairmaster.”

“A psychic told me that I was psychic, but I knew she was going to say that.”

“I wanted to go to Europe after college, but I couldn’t afford it. So I went backpacking through Epcot.”

“I don’t come from money. I come from coupons.”

According to Mark Shefts, approximately $65,000 was raised for the Foundation at the Island Gala.

Greeter Holly Maiz and Master of Ceremonies Robert Van Winkle.

“We want to thank everyone who came out to support us and for giving many of our four-legged friends a second chance,” he added.

To learn more about The Onyx and Breezy Foundation or make a contribution, visit www.onyxandbreezy.org.