18th Annual Island Celebration to fund new initiative launched by Golisano Children’s Hospital of SWFL
One of the last fundraisers of the season will support a new pediatric behavioral and mental health program at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Organized by SanCap Cares, the 18th Annual Island Celebration will kick off on April 8 at 6 p.m. at The Sanctuary Golf Club on Sanibel. The event will feature a live auction, Gift to Give silent auction, Gift from the Heart opportunity, chance packages, themed entertainment and performers, and dinner.
Valerie Tutor, event committee co-chair with Diana Day, explained that a group of mothers on the island started SanCap Cares as a way to support the local health system’s services for children.
The first fundraiser raised money for rocking chairs for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Last year’s event raised $775,000 for a pediatric operating room. In 2015, five years of fundraising resulted in $10 million for the pediatric emergency department. The event has also funded two pediatric ambulances.
“We went from rocking chairs, to that,” she said.
The proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will benefit a new initiative the hospital is tackling.
According to Lee Health, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24 in the state. Twenty percent of ages 13-10 and 13 percent of ages 8-15 in the United States live with a behavioral or mental health condition. Fifty percent of lifetime cases of mental illnesses begin by the age of 14.
“Applying those figures to our community, it’s estimated upward of 50,000 children in Southwest Florida are dealing with behavioral or mental health issues,” officials reported.
However, many cases go untreated due to misdiagnosis, lack of access to care or both.
The Golisano Children’s Hospital is planning to expand its services by adding more mental health practitioners, working with local pediatricians and partner agencies to streamline diagnosis and care, and educating the public to break down the stigma around mental illness and behavioral problems.
“To not only care for the physical needs of our children, but behavioral and mental,” Tutor said.
The Annual Island Celebration will have two themes this year. In a nod to the Masters and Augusta, there will be some golf celebrities, related surprises and the televised ending of the competition.
“We’re also kind of taking on a whimsical theme,” she said.
There will be chance packages containing items that attendees can win, including donations from the Sanibel Sea School, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and more, along with surprise gifts.
Professional actors and actresses from the BIG ARTS Strauss Theater will also be on hand.
“Who will be working with the audience, interacting with the audience,” Tutor said.
There may be a magician and more in store.
“We’ll have all kinds of whimsical characters like that,” she said.
The live auction will feature four items up for grabs.
One is a private dinner for eight at the home of Bruce and Antonette McDonald, who reside on a Captiva estate with views of both the Gulf and bay, catered by Chef Melissa Donahue from Sweet Melissa’s Cafe. It will be paired with wines from Vinifera Imports, with Vince Vinifera present.
Congress Jewelers donated a moonstone and diamond Mogul necklace and earrings set.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous and one-of-a-kind,” Tutor said.
There is also a behind-the-scenes tour and live broadcast for four guests at the Golf Channel in Orlando. The package includes four days and nights between the Ritz Carlton – with a round of golf with “Morning Drive” co-host Charlie Rymer – and Arnold Palmers Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
“And they can split it up if they want,” she said.
Jim Sprankle’s 2014 carving “Eastern Screech Owl,” originally purchased by Richard and Feyza Shipley who have donated it back for the event, will be auctioned off again. It will come with an SCCF screech owl box installed at the winner’s home and “Owl Event” for the winner and their guests.
“It’s a big thing to own one,” Tutor said of Sprankle’s sculptures.
The proceeds from this auction lot will be split evenly between the hospital and SCCF.
“We really try to connect all the non-profits and really help them out,” she said.
In line with the live auction is the Gift from the Heart opportunity.
“We give people an opportunity to donate, to pledge directly,” Tutor said.
The Give to Give silent auction will feature wish-list items to support the hospital’s programs.
“We really encourage all the donors and participants to visit it,” she said.
Options may include purchasing a set of counseling sessions for patients or needed equipment.
Representatives of the Golisano Children’s Hospital will speak during the fundraiser.
Tutor described the event as a “very worth cause” to support.
“When you support the children of Southwest Florida – and it’s not just the island children, the hospital serves five counties – you support Southwest Florida and provide for the future of Southwest Florida by providing quality healthcare,” she said.
Tickets are $250 and can be purchased at 239-984-0381.
This year’s presenting sponsor is the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company.
For additional information, visit online at sancapcares.org.
The Sanctuary Golf Club is at 2801 Wulfert Road.