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White to host fundraiser for Randell Research Center

By Staff | Jan 29, 2016

A unique fundraiser will grace Captiva Island this month to help the Randell Research Center reach its 20th anniversary endowment goal of $850,000.

“The Randell Research Center is an incredible treasure in terms of natural and social history,” noted local author Randy Wayne White said about why he wanted to hold the fundraiser.

He has lived adjacent to the 60-acre preserve on Pineland for a number of years and has come to know many of the archeologists. The author has become involved in attempts to preserve the Calusa Indian archeology and the mounds over the years.

“The mounds are not a renewable resource,” White said, noting many of them were destroyed in the early 19th century, and still some to this day.

The fundraiser will be held at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on Captiva Island from 3-6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 11, to raise funds for the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Randell Research Center. Tickets are $200 and limited to 100 guests.

“Every cent goes to the Randell Research Center,” White said. “They work with children and adults. They have ongoing digs. They have learned a great deal about the indigenous people and this coast.”

Sanibel and Captiva icon Victor Mayeron, who White said is very charming, personable, smart and funny, will conduct the live auction during the event.

“Some of the things we are auctioning are absolutely unique,” White said.

One of the auction items, a trip to Cuba, includes airfare from Miami, all legal documents, hotel arrangements and visas for a three-night stay in Cuba, as well as a custom guided tour with White’s friends. The trip will also include lunch with photographer Raul Corrales in the village of Cojimar, which is the setting for “The Old Man and the Sea.” The winners will also have the opportunity to meet the last survivors of The Gigi Stars, Hemingway’s baseball team.

Other auction items include a signed baseball from President Jimmy Carter; a Red Sox Hall of Famer Bill “Spaceman” Lee signed bat and photo; a five-day excursion with a guest in the Berry Islands aboard the Mirage; the first two boxes of legal Cuban cigars from Cuba singed by White; the opportunity to have a character named in White’s next Doc Ford or Hannah Smith novel; a one-week stay at White’s Pineland house; signed original Doc Ford manuscripts with edits and a half-day flight in a Maule Seaplane with pilot Mark Futch.

The fundraiser will also include food, stories and cocktails.

“Many people love Randy White’s ‘Doc Ford’ and ‘Hannah Smith’ novels and this is a rare opportunity to have some fun hanging out with Randy while helping a good cause,” said Bill Marquardt, Randell Research Center director and Florida Museum curator of South Florida archaeology and ethnography in a prepared statement.

The Randell Research Center sits on a site that was once the location of a large town of the now extinct Calusa Indians. The Indians controlled Southwest Florida when the Spaniards arrived in the 1500s.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/calusa or call 239-283-2062.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.