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Original painting featured on event posters, to be auctioned at Wine Fest event on Feb. 26

(Fort Myers, Fla. 1/06/11) — Twins James and Grace Novakovich, ages 4, of Fort Myers, created a collage of rainbows, flowers, clouds and brightly colored paintings for our poster “It’s a Wonderful World.”

The twins were born prematurely at a mere 27 weeks, just three quarters of their way to full term. Their mom Jennifer was transported by The Children’s Hospital Neonatal Unit ambulance from North Collier Hospital so she could deliver at the Fort Myers facility where the physicians and staff specialize in caring for the tiniest of infants.

Jennifer couldn’t see the babies for the first few days but when both mom and babies were well enough, they reunited. And Jennifer spent the next 3 months visiting her newborns in the neonatal unit whenever she could.

“Imagine a baby whose legs were a big as your index finger,” says Jennifer.”When I first saw them, they were so tiny among a mass of tubes and machines.”

The babies were not fully developed and were very sick. The fought for their lives.

“It was very scary but the whole time, I had a sense of hope,” says Jennifer. “I knew without a doubt that they were getting the best care possible.”

Jennifer said it was hard on her to be a parent and yet not be able to help her babies.  “I just had to look at the doctors and nurses and say ‘please take care of my child.'”

Now nearly five years later, her babies are active, intelligent, happy youngsters.

“Looking at them today, you’d never know they had such a rough start,” says Jennifer. “It’s a miracle.”

Their original watercolor and acrylic painting will be auctioned off at the Wine Fest’s grand tasting on Feb. 26. Wine Fest Chairman Dr. Steve Machiz says the children’s artwork is typically one of the highest-bid lots.

The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest is a signature event of the SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides funding to local charities serving local children. It begins the evening of Feb. 25 when 13 families will host 9 dinners at private homes around Southwest Florida for invited guests donating $1,000 to $1,500 per seat. Each dinner will feature wines by featured vintners and Southwest Florida’s finest local chefs.

Then on Feb. 26, the chefs, vintners, dinner guests and others come together at the Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club for the Grand Tasting and Auction. Participating chefs prepare their favorite signature dishes to accompany the wine tastings.

The Auction features exceptional packages of special and unique wines, exclusive trips, amazing dining experiences and more. All proceeds from the auction and event ticket sales will benefit three causes benefiting children’s health care in our area: The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Edison State College’s Pediatric Nursing Program and an endowment to Florida Gulf Coast University to establish a pre-med student scholarship.

Last year’s event netted $932,000 resulting in a $700,000 donation to The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and $50,000 to Edison State College and $50,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University for their respective pediatric nursing and pre-medical education programs.

To view the video about the twins and an interview with Jennifer, or for more information about the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest or ticket sales, visit or call 239-278-3900.