Skip to main content

More than 225 bidders came together for the 2019 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest on Feb. 24, with Live Auction proceeds totaling more than $1.9 million in support of SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s efforts to build healthy minds and lives for the children of Southwest Florida.

Held at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs, the event brought 12 celebrated local chefs and 11 distinguished vintners together to showcase an array of culinary creations and delectable wines in a beautiful courtyard scene during the Grand Tasting. A spirited Live Auction followed within a lively tented setting, where guests generously raised their paddles to bid on 37 auction lots featuring an array of exquisite wines, luxurious travel packages, exclusive event access and more.

A sampling of the event’s highest auction bids includes:

  • Starry Night at Sea with Black Salt: An elegant evening aboard a 112-foot luxury yacht, featuring delectable cuisine, award-winning wines and special guest FGCU President Mike Martin, sold for a total of $100,000.
  • Toe Tapping in Nashville for the Country Music Awards: A four-day trip for four people to attend the Country Music Awards sold twice for a total of $180,000.
  • Set Sail on this Luxury Yacht: A six-night stay for three couples aboard a 101-foot luxury yacht, sailing from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas, sold to the highest bidder at $70,000.
  • Captivating Croatia: A seven-day trip for four people to Croatia went for $55,000.
  • Swim with Michael Phelps: A swim lesson and pool party with Michael Phelps was auctioned for $50,000.
  • Vino en Portugal: An eight-day exploration through Portugal for four people was sold for $50,000.

Aligning with the event’s theme, “Making Waves: Building Healthy Minds,” the Live Auction also highlighted a special Fund-A-Cause, inspiring a new wave of giving in support of mental and behavioral health in Southwest Florida. Auction-goers held their paddles high, giving generously to raise $561,775 during the Fund-A-Cause to help provide local children with the care that is desperately needed to triumph over mental illness.

“Nearly 1 in 10 families in our community have a child who has a mental health condition by the age of 10, and without diagnostic care and treatment for issues occurring beneath the surface, mental illnesses can often go long undetected,” said Sandy Stilwell-Youngquist, president of the board of directors for SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. “We feel privileged to designate a substantial portion of our auction proceeds to helping our region make lifechanging strides for mental and behavioral health. We are thankful for our co-chairs, Christin Collins, Brooke Denson and Debbie Toler, for leading this year’s charge, and for all our donors, volunteers and sponsors who are making waves in our community through their support of the children and families who need our help the most.”

SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. has partnered with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to allocate the proceeds that will be directed to local children’s mental and behavioral health initiatives, an underserved and vitally important need for children and families in Southwest Florida.

In addition, 2019 Live Auction proceeds will also be granted to Golisano Children’s Hospital, Florida SouthWestern State College and Florida Gulf Coast University and nine additional beneficiaries providing children’s health care services and education throughout the region: Blessings in a Backpack, Community Cooperative, Inc., Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Florida Lions Eye Clinic, Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Help a Diabetic Child Foundation, Hope Kids Care, Lighthouse of SWFL and Make-A-Wish Southern Florida.