Gary Israel

It is nearly everyone’s desire that, at some point in their lives, they discover the kind of true passion about something that converts ‘just a job’ into something they love so much it seldom resembles work. Having published Estero Life Magazine for 13 years and owned for the last six years, I have become truly passionate about celebrating and enhancing life in the Village of Estero!

This month’s edition introduces you to others in our community who have discovered their passions and demonstrated grit as they pursue excellence, be it in athletics, business or academics.

Take Estero resident Greg Pelican, for example. An elite amateur athlete all his life, Greg, 63, won USA Triathlon Athlete of the Year in 2019. In Estero, he coaches triathletes, dual athletes and runners whose love of endurance sports gets them up before dawn for group workouts at FGCU and Estero Park. Greg instills a passion for fitness and life and expects an all-out battle of 100-percent from his athletes. 

And talking about true grit, let us introduce you to Estero High School athlete Becca Reisen, who excels in weightlifting, wrestling and football! She’s fearlessly determined as she pursues her passion for excellence in these traditionally male sports.

To me, not many things would require as much passion, determination and courage as accepting responsibility for the successes of nearly 100,000 students, hundreds of teachers, bus drivers and other personnel, but that is just what new Lee County Schools Superintendent Christopher Bernier has done as he prepares to meet the challenges facing our school system. Having been fortunate to meet and hear Dr. Bernier address our Rotary Club of Estero recently, I am assured the Lee County School Board has made an excellent choice. After reading our 7 Questions with Dr. Bernier, I think you’ll agree.

It also takes grit and passion to succeed in the restaurant business in Southwest Florida. Joe and Donna Sofia have not only thrived for 16 years with Southfork Grille at Coconut Point, now they have launched a new concept, El Nido, right next door. For quite some time, Estero Life Editor Laura Cummings and I have been talking about, ‘What we really need in Estero is a good Mexican restaurant!” After conducting nearly 140 dining reviews for Estero Life Magazine, we finally got our wish! El Nido Modern Mexican serves up simply delicious flavors from Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Guatemala and Argentina, all in a beautifully designed and decorated addition to the dining scene in Estero. Please enjoy reading about our favorite dishes!

From business to government leaders, Estero is blessed to have many people who are passionate about continually bettering our community. Each year, the Village of Estero invites interested citizens to participate in the budget process, including several exciting capital improvement projects. Read the Village Connection and mark your calendars to attend one of the two evening meetings this month to listen, learn and even give your input on the proposed budget for 2022-23.

As a longtime Estero resident and publisher of Estero Life Magazine, I have attended just about every Village Council meeting since the Village’s founding (even remotely through COVID) and always learn something of value. I am not exaggerating when I say I wake up every day looking for opportunities to showcase the many positive attributes of our community.  It is with this enduring passion that I have filed as a candidate for Estero Village Council, District 5 (including Stoneybrook, Grandezza, Tidewater and extending to the new Estero Crossing just west of I-75). I would be grateful if you would visit my website,, to learn more. It would make me so proud to represent not only my District, but all of Estero, as a member of our Village Council.

And finally, congratulations and Happy 13th Anniversary to the Estero Life Magazine team, including our local contributing writers and photographers, along with our design and printing partner, Presstige Printing. Our collective grit and passion have carried us through COVID and other challenges, and we look forward to many more years of bringing you, our wonderful readers and neighbors, more stories showcasing Estero’s best!


In the meantime, don’t forget to

Enjoy the Good Life: Estero Life!!


Gary Israel, President & Publisher 

Estero Life Magazine


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