Pelican Sound Golf & River Club Launches Charitable Foundation

Pelican Landing helicopter golf ball dropPelican Sound Golf & River Club in Estero recently announced the formation of a 501(c)3 nonprofit, the Pelican Sound Charitable Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to support charitable and educational programs of organizations that improve the lives of Southwest Florida residents in need.

The inaugural fundraiser was a Charity Golf Ball Drop on Jan. 7. More than 1,300 golf balls were dropped on the driving range! The community raised over $20,000 for charity from golf ball sales alone. In addition, a 15-minute helicopter ride was auctioned to the winning bidders, Cindy Charlier and Gay Crain.

For more information about the foundation and the charities it supports, or to make a donation, visit

Lee County Sheriff’s Office Opens Substation in Estero

Capt. Blake Lee with Council members at the Sheriff's Substation open houseLee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno invited Village of Estero Council members and residents of south LeeCounty to tour the new South District Substation on Feb. 4. Eighty Sheriff’s Office personnel now operate out of the new building, located near the Estero-Bonita Springs line, next to Lee Health Coconut Point, at 8350 Hospital Drive.

The substation will serve south Lee County, including Coconut Point Mall, Miromar Outlets and Gulf Coast Town Center, and will work with campus police at Florida Gulf Coast University, as well as the Lee County Port Authority. Additionally, many programs will run out of the new substation, including crime prevention and self defense. Capt. Blake Lee led the tour of the new facility, which includes a secure command center, a detective wing with interview rooms, a “roll call” room serving six shifts daily, an office for VOICE community volunteers and a break room for officers on duty.

Culinary CHEF Showdown Raises Scholarship Funds

Chef Brian Roland, CHEF Showdown Winner Chef Asif Syed, CHEF Board President Taryn Cafiero, CHEF Challenger Jason GoddardThe Culinary & Hospitality Education Foundation of Southwest Florida (CHEF) raised $120,000 at its Jan. 6 signature fundraising event — double the amount raised in 2019. New to this year’s event was the Culinary CHEF Showdown, a friendly competition between CHEF’s 2020 honoree, 21 Spices by Chef Asif owner Asif Syed, and challenger, Aielli Restaurant Group’s Corporate Chef Jason Goddard. Over 120 guests enjoyed watching the lively culinary competition on stage at Grey Oaks Country Club in Naples.

Since CHEF’s inception in 2001, the foundation has awarded more than $300,000, allowing students to pursue degrees and careers in the culinary arts and hospitality industries. Save the date for the 2021 Culinary CHEF Showdown: Jan. 11, 2021. For more information on CHEF’s mission, visit

Lee Health, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Announce Partnership

Golisano Children's Hospital of SWFLDonations collected in the region for Children’s Miracle Network will now stay local, benefitting the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Through this partnership, the community can support its local children’s hospital by purchasing a paper Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals “Miracle Balloon” at checkout from participating retailers, by joining Extra Life, a 24-hour gaming and fundraising marathon, or by supporting other campaigns and events. Donations will support research and training, purchase equipment and pay for uncompensated care.

While local businesses have been raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for years, this partnership will allow the dollars raised in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties to stay local to help Southwest Florida’s children. The money raised through this partnership will be maintained in a designated fund within the Lee Health Foundation and earmarked for use exclusively to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital. To find out more, visit

The Water School at FGCU Breaks Ground

The Water School Executive Director Greg TolleyFlorida Gulf Coast University broke ground for The Water School on Nov. 21, 2019. The ceremony included local, regional and state policy makers and legislators. Construction should be completed by the fall of 2021.

Executive Director Greg Tolley spoke of the vision for this unique school, which brings together 16 different programs including engineering, business, health and psychology to bring an interdisciplinary approach to solving water-based issues. The health of waterways impacts surrounding ecosystems, regional and state economies and people. FGCU is taking a leadership role as a catalyst for change in our community and throughout the world. To learn more, visit

Best Buddies Surpasses Fundraising Goal, Names Champion of the Year

Best Buddies Southwest Florida surpassed its inaugural CBest Buddies Champion of the Year Ken Cokerhampion of the Year Gala fundraising goal by 63 percent, raising a total of $79,000. As the top fundraiser, Ken Coker, of Cross Country Mortgage, was named the 2019 Champion of the Year. The announcement was made at the gala held on Nov. 15 at The Forest Country Club in Fort Myers.

Prior to the event, 11 Southwest Florida “champions” raised funds and awareness for Best Buddies and generated countless opportunities for friendships, jobs and leadership development for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 2019 Southwest Florida champions included: Andy Minoie, Starbucks at Miromar Outlets; Dale Earp, Earp Enterprises; Derek Newborn, Derek Newborn Fitness; Susan Christiano, Engel & Volkers; Amy Gaziano, mother of Gianna, 2018 Best Buddies Friendship Ball Queen; Steve Bray, Titan Restoration Construction; Jenna Maringione, FGCU Chapter President; David Oliver, Talking Bear Consulting; Elizabeth Salazar, Lehigh Senior High Chapter; and Tim Dupre, Conditioned Air. 

Golisano Foundation Launches ‘Bailey and Friends’ to Support Animal Welfare

Tom Golisano and BaileyThe Golisano Foundation has launched a new initiative, Bailey and Friends, to support animal welfare for cats and dogs in Western New York and Southwest Florida. A new trust component of the Golisano Foundation, Bailey and Friends will work with shelters, rescue groups, veterinary clinics and other lifesaving programs to promote pet wellness, safety and keeping pets and families together.

Financial support from Bailey and Friends will focus on spaying and neutering, quality shelter care, adoptions and foster care, emergency relief, therapy/companion training, community education on responsible pet ownership. Bailey and Friends is named for Tom Golisano’s rescue dog, Bailey.

Bailey and Friends first grant in the amount of $20,000 is being made to Freedom Guide Dogs, a unique program that serves blind individuals including those with special needs, helping them participate actively in their communities. In 2018, they placed 38 guide dogs, including three in Southwest Florida.

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