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Mayor, chamber award monthly face mask challenge winners

By CHAMBER OF COMMERCE - | Feb 16, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Chamber President John Lai, left, and Mayor Mick Denham present Neven Connor, 11, and Lauren Schneider with their award checks.

A mask appliqued with a smile in the shape of Sanibel and another featuring a lottery ticket won the second round of the Mayor’s Mask Challenge for January entries. In partnership with the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Mick Denham has been awarding cash prizes every month from December through February for the most fashionable, flamboyant or ostentatious masks entered into the challenge.

Each month, one prize-winner from Sanibel and one from Captiva receive a $200 award. Since there were no Captiva entries for January, both monthly awards went to winners on Sanibel.

Part-time resident Lauren Schneider emailed the chamber a photo of her wearing a mask with a copy of a lottery ticket attached in Bailey’s General Store. Photo entries must be taken indoors at an island place of business.

“Once I found out that Mayor Denham had actually donated half of my winnings out of his own pocket, my husband and I decided that we are going to donate half of my winnings to F.I.S.H.,” she said.

Neven Connor, 11, entered three masks, which won as a set. She is living temporarily with her family on Sanibel, where her grandfather resides.

PHOTO PROVIDED Neven Conor, 11, wears her “Sanibel Smile” mask.

“The Sanibel Smile was meant to signify a smile because you cannot see someone’s smile through a mask,” she wrote when she submitted her entries. “During times of Covid-19 a smile has to replicate a hug, kiss and high five. The smile on the Sanibel smile mask is the shape of the Sanibel and Captiva islands.”

She titled her other two entries “The Junonia Jumble” and “The Abstract Art.” The fifth-grader said she would be using the $200 in award money to put toward her college fund.

“We had 17 entries in January, a jump from the 12 we received previously for the partial month of December when we started the challenge,” chamber President John Lai said. “Exactly as we were hoping, people are having fun with the challenge, which is meant to lighten the dire pandemic mood.”

The mayor will award more cash prizes, matched by the chamber, after the end of February. Entries can be made by the end of the month to the chamber’s Instagram or Facebook page using #mayorsmaskchallenge or via email to island@sanibel-captiva.org. Once Denham and the chamber’s executive board choose the month’s winners, they will award the cash prizes at the beginning of the following month.

“We all know wearing a mask helps keep the pandemic numbers down, so we’re trying to ease the tension while facing a very serious problem,” Denham said. “It still has the same objective to keep the islands safe.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Part-time Sanibel resident Lauren Schneider won for her lottery ticket mask.

Entrants can submit as many photos as they wish, but they cannot submit the same mask for more than one month. Business owners and city or chamber employees are ineligible to enter.

“The Mayor’s Mask Challenge celebrates those doing their part to comply with the chamber’s SanCap Safe initiative,” Lai said. “We know that wearing a face mask is so important and will ultimately be a symbol of this time, so we might as well have some fun and work together to slow the spread and fight COVID-19.”