Bidders uncorked the power of giving in a big way, raising $3.2 million for pediatric health care during SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s 2017 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. One hundred percent of ticket sales and live auction bids from the event benefit SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s beneficiaries, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College. Made possible by title sponsor Hostess Brands, the two-day signature event featured Chef Vintner Dinners on Friday, Feb. 24 at private venues throughout Southwest Florida, and The Grand Tasting & Live Auction on Feb. 25, where more than 350 people came together at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club. The weekend of giving concluded with an Uncorked Celebration Party at Six Bends Harley-Davidson, which featured live performances by The Loving Mary Band and Steeltown Religion.
Highlighting the event was the Live Auction, which offered a selection of 40 exclusive getaways, delectable wine and culinary offerings and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Among the highlights, was a trip to the 2017 Masters in Augusta, Georgia, hosted by PGA golfer Bobby Clampett, which brought in $60,000. Another highly coveted lot was an intimate six-night cruise for six aboard the 127-foot yacht M/Y Bella Una, courtesy of Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane, owners of Benovia Winery, with stops in Newport, Rhode Island, Mystic, Connecticut, and New York City, which raised $60,000. A three-night getaway for six people at the Relais & Chateaux Auberge du Soleil Resort in Napa Valley, featuring an exclusive library and barrel tasting at V Madrone Cellars, private tours of Continuum Estate and Chappellet Vineyards, and a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley added another $60,000 towards SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s overall fundraising total.
A number of generous donors doubled their donations to the Live Auction, providing an additional opportunity for auction-goers to stake their claim on the exclusive experiences up for bid. A five-night trip for eight to Havana, Cuba, led by Chef Gloria Jordan of La Trattoria Café Napoli, was donated a second time, bringing in a total of $110,000. A nine-day, eight-night trip for four through Italy’s wine country of Tuscany, Liguria and Piemonte, led by culinary visionary Chef Loretta Paganini raised a total of $105,000. In addition, the Staglin Family doubled their donation of a two-night luxury glamping trip for four at the Staglin Family Vineyard in Rutherford, California, raising $90,000 total. A one-week stay for six people at The Jewel of Zermatt, a private, ski-in ski-out luxury chalet in Zermatt, Switzerland was donated a second time, bringing in a total of $90,000 between the two bids. A 16-person dining experience at Café & Bar Lurcat in Naples, hosted by Chef Mike Mueller was donated twice, bringing in a total of $60,000. Sold twice, a three-night stay for eight people at Gamble Family Vineyards raised $40,000 total.
During the Live Auction, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. highlighted an important sector of pediatric health care where funding has been lacking, the area of behavioral and mental health. With an estimated 46,000 children in our region currently have, or have had, a seriously debilitating mental disorder, the funds raised during this segment of the Live Auction will fulfill a growing need within the region. Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest’s Fund-A-Cause for mental and behavioral health raised $1 million in collective bids, and will be dedicated to helping build the foundation for a comprehensive mental health program to serve the children of Southwest Florida.
2017 Child Artists Leo and Lola Grabinski took the stage during the auction to present their work of art, a vibrant painting that depicts their story of survival, and the largest piece created in the history of the Child Artist program. The Child Art raised $180,000, and the original painting will adorn the walls of Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, where the twins spent 98 days in the NICU after being born 13 weeks early in 2011.
A popular item among auction-goers, Pass the Hat featured a variety of items, including a 2012 Corvette, college scholarships, tickets to a Jimmy Fallon show and a diamond wedding ring. The collection of prizes were auctioned off to the winning bidder for $150,000.
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 $18.8 million over the past nine years, making it the most successful fundraising event in Lee County and one of the top-grossing wine fests in the country. The nonprofit, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. donates 100 percent of the event proceeds to three local beneficiaries. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is the primary beneficiary of the event, and the money raised helps to fund the building of the new family-centered children’s hospital that will provide new and expanded medical services and subspecialty services to children from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. In addition to providing funds for the new state-of-the-art Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, 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. For more information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.