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Donors, Trustees and supporters of SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. celebrated virtually and presented grants totaling $1.4 million to three beneficiaries of the 2020 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest to enhance pediatric healthcare services and education programs in the Five-county region.  

Golisano Children’s Hospital, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College are the main beneficiaries. With more than $1 Million provided to Golisano Children’s Hospital this month, the total to Golisano Children’s Hospital to date is more than $20 Million to fund all kinds of programs including mental health, neo-natal care, incubators, Opthalmology to name a few. 

 “Lee Health and the Golisano Children’s Hospital are grateful to SWFL Children’s Charities for their latest pledge payment of over $1 million towards our pediatric ophthalmology program. With this payment, SWFL Children’s Charities has now provided over $20 million towards the outstanding facility and programs of Golisano Children’s Hospital, including the new hospital, pediatric behavioral and mental health, and pediatric ophthalmology. As the leading donor to supporting children’s health, we are extremely grateful to all the attendees and supporters of the SWFL Food and Wine Festival” said Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health. “By working together for the benefit of our youth and their families, these programs are saving lives here in Southwest Florida.” 

Auction-goers held their paddles high, giving generously to raise $585,200 during the Fund-A-Cause to help provide local children with the care that is desperately needed to see and live a bright future through the SWFL Children’s Charities Eye Institute of Golisano Children’s Hospital. Supporters also rallied around the 2020 Child Artist, Eleanor O’Neal who was born at just 23 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 pound, 3 ounces. Now a playful 1-year-old, Ellie took the stage during the Live Auction to present her vibrant, one-of-a-kind piece of art, a painting that reflects the beautiful colors that she now sees thanks to the care she received at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Her artwork, titled “Do You See What I See?” raised $125,000, and the original painting will be displayed on the wall of Golisano Children’s Hospital. 

The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, a signature event of SWFL Children’s Charities, features chef vintner dinners, a grand tasting and live auction. Since its inception 12 years ago, the event has donated more than $24 million to benefit local nonprofit organizations. SWFL Children’s Charities carries out its mission of saving children’s lives by supporting organizations committed to pediatric health care services and education. 

The other beneficiaries of the 2020 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest proceeds included $200,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University: Scholarships for students majoring in pediatric health care sciences and $200,000 to Florida SouthWestern State College: Scholarships for students majoring in pediatric health care sciences and equipment for FSW’s health sciences department. Those two donations completed the two – $1 Million five-year pledges to the nursing programs at both schools.

Due to the pandemic, supporters gathered virtually for a wine tasting with Bricoleur Vineyards out of Sonoma, California, and celebrated with the three beneficiaries with stand in checks and virtual cheers. A portion of the wine sales from the tasting also benefitted SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. 

Check out photos here

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