More than 350 bidders recently came together to give generously, raising $2.9 million in total to support pediatric health care and education during SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s 2018 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest.
All contributions made during the two-day event will support Golisano Children’s Hospital, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College in support of pediatric health care and scholarships for local students majoring in health sciences. Additionally, 10 percent of auction proceeds will benefit four new beneficiaries including PACE Center for Girls of Lee County, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, SalusCare, Inc. and The Heights Foundation.
The signature event featured Chef Vintner Dinners on Friday, March 2 at private homes throughout Southwest Florida, and The Grand Tasting and Live Auction on March 3 at Quail West Golf and Country Club. Festivities concluded with Dessert After Glow, a decadent gourmet dessert reception featuring renowned pastry chefs Norman Love of Norman Love Confections, Jean François Suteau of The Greenbriar Hotel and Thomas Raquel of Le Bernardin, as well as a lively performance by Deb & The Dynamics.
With 38 phenomenal offerings up for bid during the Live Auction, bidders raised their paddles high for a chance to win a selection of exclusive getaways, delectable wine and culinary offerings and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The highest bids were for the Spire Collection Experience, selling twice for $100,000, offering each of the winning bidders an exclusive three-night Napa Valley journey for four at the stunning Lokoya Villa, VIP tastings, exceptional meals and a private helicopter tour. A five-night sojourn for six aboard the Bella Una, a 127-foot, tri-deck yacht owned by Mary Dewane and Joe Anderson of Benovia Winery, sailing from Newport, Rhode Island to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard sold to the highest bidder for $75,000. A premium NFL and NHL experience at the bidder’s choice of Boston or New York also went for $70,000; the bidder chose Boston.
The Fund-A-Cause this year was focused on pediatric oncology, and the Live Auction featured the Bell family as special guests. Jack Bell, son of Ed and Rachel Bell, received lifesaving treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital after being diagnosed with stage four liver cancer at the age of two. The now healthy 12-year-old took the stage, and bidders gave generously to raise $637,750 for the pediatric oncology program at Golisano Children’s Hospital, helping provide lifesaving cancer treatment for Southwest Florida’s children, close to home.
2018 Child Artists Matthew Singleton, a five-year-old leukemia patient, and his six-year-old brother, Steven, also took the stage to present their works of art during the Live Auction. Matthew’s artwork, titled “Sparkly Night,” and Steven’s artwork, titled “Golden King,” were created in collaboration with Child Art Mentor Jolie Black, whose daughter, Sophia, was the 2015 Child Artist. Matthew and Steven’s artwork raised $170,000, and the original paintings will be displayed on the walls of Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, where Matthew received cancer treatment.
Pass the Hat is one of the favorite lots among bidders due to the unique items donated by the auction-goers themselves. This year the hat included overnight stays in wine country with tours and tastings, an afternoon sailing expedition with Offshore Sailing School followed by a multi-course gourmet wine dinner at Sails restaurant, a glamorous photography session and much more. The collection was auctioned off for $65,000.
For more information about SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. or its annual signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, visit www.swflwinefest.org.
SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.’s annual signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, has raised more than $20 million over the past ten years, making it one of the top-grossing wine fests in the country. The trustees and sponsors underwrite the event and the nonprofit, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc., donates contributions made during the event to local beneficiaries. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is the most significant beneficiary of the event, which provides health services to children from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. In addition, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. grants funds to Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College to provide scholarships and equipment to educate the community’s next generation of pediatric health care professionals. Ten percent of auction proceeds also benefits four new beneficiaries including PACE Center for Girls of Lee County, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, SalusCare, Inc. and The Heights Foundation. For more information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.