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Tickets on sale for Special Pops fund raiser

By Staff | May 16, 2013

Tickets are on sale for the Fifth Annual Fashion Show and Auction to benefit Special Populations.

Hosted by the Guardian Angels for Special Populations, the event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 1 at the Palmetto-Pine Country Club. The fund-raiser will feature a runway show and lunch, along with door prizes, a 50/50 drawing and several auctions – a silent one, a live one and a Chinese one.

“It’s a great fund-raiser in the fact that our (Special Populations) participants get involved and actually help it along by being fashion models,” Vince Marcucci, the president of the Guardian Angels, said.

“They get to practice one or two times coming down the runway and their strut,” he said. “We have a few friends of Special Populations, who are actually Guardian Angels, and they’ll be models, as well.”

About 15 models will showcase clothing and accessories provided by Belk.

“They can expect to see summer fashions,” Marcucci said, adding that the runway looks will range from casual, to dressy. “We have volunteers that come in to help them with their makeup.”

Tickets cost $25 per person. As of Wednesday, about 80 tickets had been sold.

“My goal was 200, but I’ll be thrilled with 150,” he said of this year’s ticket sales goal.

The deadline to purchase tickets is May 31.

Marcucci noted that the tickets cost an extra $5 this year.

“To help defray the cost of a full-service meal like this,” he said.

Lunch will consist of a mixed baby green salad, with fresh berries, crumbled cheese and candied walnuts, along with one’s choice of salad dressing and bread. Beverages also will be available.

“They have access to a cash bar, so if they want a cocktail, they can do that,” Marcucci said.

Previously hosted at the Lake Kennedy Senior Center, it is the event’s first time at Palmetto-Pine.

“We thought we’d bring it up a notch,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit classier.”

Marcucci added that the new venue and few extra dollars for a serviced meal will help alleviate past issues organizers faced, such as seeking out sponsors to donate food and cleaning up afterward.

“Hopefully, it will be a better experience for everybody, that everyone will enjoy,” he said.

Last year, more than 125 people attended and approximately $7,000 was raised.

“I think last year was our biggest crowd,” Marcucci said.

Another new twist to the fund-raiser this year is the live auction.

“We really started earlier and extended our reach a little further,” he said of seeking donations.

Some live auction items include Disney Park Hopper passes, tickets to SeaWorld and the Florida Aquarium, a boat rental from Paradise Boat Rentals, getaways to the GullWing Beach Resort on Fort Myers Beach and the Sundial Beach resort on Sanibel, and Norman Love Confections delicacies.

“Some really nice things,” Marcucci said.

For the silent auction, attendees can bid on items within their price range. Tickets are bought for the Chinese auction and placed into bags designated for items, then the winning tickets are picked out.

“The auction part is really fun for everybody,” he said.

Donated bottles of wine will be handed out as door prizes.

“When the first (Special Populations) participant walks down the runway, the audience knows why they’re there,” Marcucci said of the event. “You just know that they’re the focus of the show.”

The Freida B. Smith Special Populations Center offers a variety of programs for adults and children with developmental disabilities. The mission is to promote independence among participants through exposure, education and experience in a safe and caring environment, according to the city Web site.

“It’s a safe place and a learning center,” Marcucci said. “It’s continuing education for a lot of the participants. They can learn job training skills.”

Currently, there are about 100 participants in the weekday program. Once the community dances and evening social events are factored in, Special Populations serves approximately 180 individuals.

Due to budget cuts in recent years, only Cape residents are accepted into the program. However, existing participants were grandfathered in, so they come from throughout Lee County.

“North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Pine Island – we do have people from all over,” he said.

Tickets for the Fifth Annual Fashion Show and Auction can be ordered and purchased online at: www.myspecialpops.org .

They can also be ordered and purchased over the phone using a credit card by contacting the Freida B. Smith Special Populations Center at (239) 574-0574, or by stopping in.

The Freida B. Smith Special Populations Center is at 410 Santa Barbara Blvd.

The Palmetto-Pine Country Club is at 1940 S.W. Ninth Court.