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Annual DDWS fundraiser to raise support for ‘Ding’ Darling

By Staff | Jan 31, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Famed bird sculptor Jim Sprankle shows off the one-of-a-kind feather pin that he carved for the sixth annual Go Wild for “Ding” fundraiser on Feb. 14 to benefit the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society.

An upcoming fundraiser will provide attendees with an opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind artwork and exciting excursions, all while supporting the islands’ wildlife refuge.

Organized by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, the fourth annual Go Wild for “Ding” – In The Nest will take place Feb. 14 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Community House on Sanibel. This year’s theme continues a series of bird events, with famed bird sculptor Jim Sprankle creating two pieces.

“Go Wild for ‘Ding’ is one of our biggest fundraisers each year,” Sarah Lathrop, associate executive director of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, said.

Proceeds from the event go toward supporting education, research and programs at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Lathrop explained that this year’s proceeds would specifically help fund the educator position at the refuge. The position was frozen in February due to cost restraints.

“We bus out over 5,000 kids each year just on field trips,” she said, noting that with summer camp programs and home-schooled students added in the total outreach is more than 8,000 children.

PHOTO PROVIDED One of the auction items up for bid at the sixth annual Go Wild for “Ding” fundraiser is a hinged, porcelain egg hand-painted with refuge scenes by Patty Sprankle.

“The educator position is the one who coordinates all the field trips,” Lathrop said.

The position also coordinates hikes, tours, and arts and crafts, as well as leads other programs.

“Without that educator position, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” she said.

Another year, the event helped raise money for land acquisition.

The fundraiser will feature both a live and silent auction. Each year, Sprankle creates a hand-carved hand-painted feather pin for the event. This year’s signed piece is modeled after a green heron feather. The winners of the pin bids get to join the ranks of the exclusive 50-member Sprankle Feather Club.

PHOTO PROVIDED The inside of the hinged, porcelain egg hand-painted that is up for auction at the sixth annual Go Wild for “Ding” fundraiser.

Sprankle also carved a green heron necklace slider for this year’s fundraiser. The winner of the bid will become the head of the Feather Club for the new year and help to plan the 2019 Feather Club event.

“We also have a beautiful porcelain hand-painted egg that’s about the size of an ostrich egg,” Lathrop said, noting that the live auction will consist of a few items. “We’ve got some exclusive art pieces.”

There is also an Idaho adventure package, which includes airfare for two, a two-night stay in the guest cabin of artist Ed Anderson, a guided and outfitted day of fly-fishing on the Boise River, and two meals for two in Boise restaurants.

The silent auction will feature approximately 30 items.

“We have all kinds of different items, ranging from Ikki Matsumoto artwork to a private tour through Wildlife Drive with a ranger,” she said. “We’ve got some jewelry. We’ll have baseball tickets.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Famed bird sculptor Jim Sprankle also carved a green heron necklace slider for the sixth annual Go Wild for “Ding” fundraiser on Feb. 14 to benefit the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society.

There is also a private beer-brewing party for four with Deputy Refuge Manager Nate Caswell.

In addition to the auctions, a guest speaker will help to rally and inspire the attendees.

“We’ve got a surprise guest who’s going to come and talk to the crowd,” Lathrop said. “The individual is very passionate and is always a great speaker.”

A full-course buffet meal will be served by the Sanibel Catering Company by Bailey’s.

“This year, Bailey’s is taking on the entire meal and donating it to the event,” she said.

Queenie’s Ice Cream is donating the dessert.

As for this year’s fundraising goal, Lathrop is aiming for the $80,000-plus range.

“We always try to raise more than we did the previous year,” she said.

Tickets are $125 per person.

Lathrop estimated that there were about 175 tickets in total.

As of Jan. 22, about 50 tickets remained.

She encouraged those interested in attending to get their tickets before they run out.

“It’s just a fun event that brings people out and introduces them to the refuge,” Lathrop said. “It’s just a really fun evening to celebrate our love for ‘Ding.'”

To reserve a spot, register at tinyurl.com/gowild2018 or contact sarah@dingdarlingsociety.org or 239-472-1100 ext. 4. For more information, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/go-wild-for-ding.

Those unable to attend may bid on auction items remotely by contacting “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society Executive Director Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.

The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way.