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CHR announces arrival of manatees for new fundraiser

By CHR - | Dec 23, 2020


Fifteen manatee sculptures, transformed into works of color and beauty by local artists, have been placed across the city of Sanibel as part of the Community Housing and Resources’ Manatee Madness fundraiser. The inspiration began as an idea that CHR Executive Director Melissa Rice had been contemplating for years based on the painted “cow parades.” In this case, sea cows.

In addition to the manatees that will live in a particular location for the next three and a half months, there is a smaller version, Baby Manatee, that will travel to restaurants and businesses around the islands as part of CHR’s Give Back Wednesday events.

“We wanted to find a unique way to raise much-needed funds for our mission to provide affordable housing on the islands,” Rice said. “Given the difficulties of the time, we needed an idea that would generate excitement and engage our community without a crowded gathering. The concept of populating Sanibel with brightly painted works of art, using our beloved manatees, seemed like the answer.”

Event co-chairs Laura DeBruce and Arlene Dillon went to work with a small but dedicated committee, including Lena Brown and Lisa Ann Miller, all determined to make Manatee Madness a success.

“To my delight, so many amazing artists agreed to donate their time and talent,” Brown said. “You can learn more about the artists and their inspiration in our Manatee Madness booklet coming soon.”

PHOTO PROVIDED As part of the Community Housing and Resources' Manatee Madness, one smaller sculpture — Baby Manatee — will travel to restaurants and businesses around the islands as part of CHR's Give Back Wednesday events.

The artists are Danielle Branchaud, Cath Branwood, Ginny Dickinson, Tim Finfrock, Kristina Jackson, Cheryl Logan, Taryn Manning, Anita Force Marshall, Bob Marshall, Kym Mason, Rena Martinson, Melinda Maugans, Lacy McClary, Marianne Ravenna, Joan Tangren Reynolds, Jim and Patty Sprankle, Brian Weaver, and Peter Zell. Their manatee creations range from mythical mermaids and salty sea captains to birds and, naturally for Sanibel, one draped in layers of shells.

“All of them are spectacular,” DeBruce said. “We are in awe of our talented artists.”

The presenting sponsor for the event is The Sanctuary Golf Club Foundation.

The manatee sponsors are Bailey’s General Store, Billy’s Bikes, CIELO, Finemark Bank, Heidrick Insurance, MudBugs Cajun Kitchen, Pfeifer Realty Group, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank and the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company; each will host a manatee during the season. A group of businesses at the Treetops Center — DeBruce Blackman, John Henshaw & Associates Inc., Island Home Services, Island Vacations and Superior Title — joined together to bring one of the manatees to that location.

Individuals including Jim and Dulce Doss, Jo and Manny Fernandez, Ed and Annette Hendrick, Ellen and Dave Raisbeck, and Dick and Sheridan Snell also agreed to sponsor one of the artist-transformed manatees to place around the island.

“Time and again, I am humbled by and grateful for the city of Sanibel’s support and our community’s generosity,” Rice said. “Especially during these turbulent times when there is so much need for affordable housing and the other support that we give to our residents.”

To cap off Manatee Madness, the unique works of art will be up for auction.

“If we are permitted to hold a walk-through event, then we will do that on April 11 at the Sanibel Historical Village, so that everyone can take one more look at all of the manatees before the bidding begins,” Rice said the preferred option.

In the meantime, CHR encourages residents and visitors of Sanibel to travel to each of the manatee locations and then send photos and selfies back to CHR by emailing MM21@sanibelchr.org.


– Check out the centerfold map in Manatee Madness booklet and take a tour to find the manatees.

– Take a selfie with each manatee for a chance to win a raffle prize. Email the photos to mm21@sanibelchr.org or post on Instagram and Facebook with #ManateeMadness.

– Buy a Manatee Madness T-shirt for $25 at the On Island Store and Bailey’s General Store. All proceeds will go to CHR.

– Save the date of April 11 to attend the outdoor “Manatee Madness Walk-Through Auction” at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village and bid on the manatee you want to own. Look for event details coming soon in the local island newspapers.

– Donate to CHR in honor of your favorite manatee.

– Keep up to date on the “Manatee Madness” season by signing up for CHR’s newsletter at sanibelchr.org.

Source: Community Housing and Resources