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Come on down!

By Staff | Feb 28, 2012

You can get the chance to play the Southwest Florida version of “The Price Is Right” at a special fund raiser to be held Sunday, March 4.
Lucky “contestants” will be asked to “Come On Down!” in a spoof of the wildly popular game show — the longest running game show in all of TV history –to benefit Starfish International.
Resident Jane Richards has had the unique pleasure of being on that show not once, but twice — once in 1961 and once last year 50 years later.
Her second appearance was part of a gift given to her by her family on her birthday in December, where show representatives and host Drew Carey made her feel welcome and a big part of the show.
Her appearance was so popular with local residents, that when she decided to do a fund raiser now for a cause near and dear to her heart, she immediately thought about a mock Price Is Right show for the community.
“Who would think that 50 years later, I’d be on the show again, and then bring it to Lake Fairways?” said Richards.
The event will benefit Starfish International, a not for profit organization whose mission is to empower girls from Gambia by providing them with an advanced education.
“My daughter met a girl that was raised in Gambia who was going to Syracuse University,” said Richards. “When I heard her story, I thought, I’m someday going to do something for the girls Gambia. That young lady with an 8-year-old when the two met, and later started the international movement called Starfish International.”
Her name is Yasson, she said.
“What happens is when they (Gambian girls) get to the eighth grade, they (families) will not send girls on to school. They only make about $30 a month in U.S. dollars and can work six days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. just to do that.”
Richards was so taken with the cause that last February, she went alone to Gambia. In February 2001 she spent a whole month in Gambia.
“Now I’m doing this benefit one year later.”
Previously, her daughter went and spent a whole summer there, telling her mother how much books and art supplies and all types of things were needed there. Jane took up the cause. “It was a 30-hour trip, but I was excited.”
Richards said Gambia is a very interesting place.
“There’s no robbery, no murders, but hardly any food. A carrot costs $1.” It was culture shock when she arrived, she said. “All the roads had washed away. It was just rocks and torrents.”
Everyone there loved the books and all the art supplies she brought, and she spent many hours talking to people there.
“The kids they call me Grandma Jane. When I came home, I thought, I need to do something more.”
So onto the show. Of the event she said be lots of prizes and most of all, people will have fun. She will be emcee and they will work along the lines of the show. They’ll bring people down on stage with the famous “Come On Down!” line, who will then bid on prizes. “They could be over or under, whoever is closest will be the winner.”
She will not tell all the prizes, claiming they are many and secret.
Lake Fairways resident Bud Berger will be the announcer.
“He’s a dead ringer for the real show announcer,” Richards said.
Berger is a former high school coach.
“I always did pep assemblies, and many retirement dinners. I also emcee on Saturday nights at our Saturday Coffee at the clubhouse,” Berger said. “To me the secret will be getting all the spectators involved. We want them to be cheering for their friends when they are called, and we need to have the contestants be energetic when they are bidding on prizes.”
Richards has the blessings of the Price Is Right people. She called them to ask permission to do the spoof. They called back, she said, when she and committee members, many from the Lake Fairways Estates Homeowners Board of Directors, were meeting on the proposed fund raiser.
“The Price Is Right people are wonderful,” Richards said. “Very nice people who were very enthusiastic when they gave me permission to use the idea.”
Doors open for the event on Sunday, March 4, at 6:30, with show time at 7 p.m. The cost is a $5 donation. The clubhouse at Lake Fairways in North Fort Myers seats about 400, and organizers hope the show sells out.
For more information on Starfish International, go to starfishinternational.com.
“I also have a tax-free number for people who may want to just donate,” said Richards.
Pre-event ticket sales are encouraged.
For information or tickets call Joan Cristello at 731-2726 or Patty Craig at 567 0910.