July 28, 2014

Scene & Heard

Cupcake lady and Cake Boss: Birthday girl, and cupcake impressaria, Shelly Stayer with Buddy Valastro, star of Cake Boss, at Stayer’s Woodstock-themed bash. (David Urban)Showtime for the MD

The doctor had stars in his eyes—and at his side. Healer by day (as a Lee Memorial Health Systems emergency room doctor) and rocker by night (he plays in a local band), Dr. Larry Hobbs got a break last February he could never have even dreamed of. He was asked to play bass with the big boys at the All Star Jam Concert at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Hobbs took the stage downtown with legends like Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, formerly of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan; Barry Goudreau and Fran Sheehan formerly of Boston; and Kenny Aronoff, who has recorded with Smashing Pumpkins among others. “He was,” says his wife, Deborah, “like a little kid, totally star struck.” Good to know there was a doctor in the house, making people feel good. And none felt better about it than he did.


Magical Homecoming

Home, sweet home. there was fresh magic made at Magic Under the Mangroves in March as the annual gala returned to its home base at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center for the first time since a massive renovation and building project got underway more than three years ago. Under a gorgeous white tent on its grounds in the heart of Naples, more than 400 guests enjoyed an elegant dinner with a dazzling auction. It featured exotic trips, including a safari to Zambia, dinner for 12 at the Kentucky Derby and a retreat for 12 in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Magic Chair Jeannie Smith walked away with a one-of-a kind diamond panther pendant designed by Port Royal Jewelers. Over and over, her generous husband, Christopher, seemed to delight in driving the bidding beyond the $100,000 mark. The magic fundraising wand conjured a record-breaking net of $730,000 for the Conservancy. Nice homecoming.

 

Health Heroes

Caring. giving. succeeding. nancy and bill Lascheid started the Neighborhood Health Clinic in 1999, and, since then, they and their dedicated staff have treated hundreds of thousands of under-insured patients. The clinic now serves as a model for other such facilities around the country and the Lascheids are the heroes of the working poor. In February, Hodges University honored them as 2012 Humanitarians of the Year at the Naples Beach Club. I can’t think of a more deserving couple for this great honor. Congratulations, Nancy and Bill, for your years of service.

 

Picking Pockets

There had to be money trees growing in hope for Haiti’s Secret Garden gala in March at the St. Ann’s Jubilee Center in Naples. This year’s event brought in more than $1 million as the 300 guests gathered to honor Hope for Haiti’s founder, JoAnne Kuehner. JoAnne started Hope for Haiti more than two decades ago and has helped hundreds of thousands of children in Haiti. She got laughs and applause when she accepted the “Heart of Gold Award” and said, “I’m just a pocket picker. You all know that because I’ve picked your pocket many times.” The tribute is being renamed the “JoAnne Kuehner Heart of Gold Award” in her honor. Perfect.

 

Win-Win Deal

More on hearts. this is a story of joe anderson’s heart with some dramatic twists and turns. The owner of signature winery Benovia showed his caring side at February’s Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest at Miromar Lakes Country Club when it looked as if the auction would be just short of its $2 million goal. Joe and his buddy Dave Copham stepped up and donated $100,000 apiece. The crowd then chipped in to make up the difference. Joe had already given more than $130,000 so the Children’s Hospital could buy Giraffe incubators for premature babies. Now here’s where the twist comes in. A few days prior to all this, Joe wasn’t feeling well—it turned out to be a heart problem—and Lee Memorial Health Systems CEO Jim Nathan saw to it that he got the care he needed. Nice how this turned into a win-win for Joe and Lee Memorial.

Sky, stage and screen: Lily Mleczko, left, at Magic Under the Mangroves; David McElwee, Fran Fenning and William McNulty, center, at the Red opening night party; and new NBC-2 anchor Peter Busch and family. (TOP LEFT: AP ALEXANDER  TOP MIDDLE RIGHT: JOHN LOGAN)

Amazing Turnout

They sure packed ’em in—a record-breaking 900 guests—at The Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in February for the 12th annual Mending Broken Hearts with Hope luncheon to benefit the Shelter for Abused Women & Children. It took two separate ballrooms to accommodate the crowd. And they raised a cool $1.15 million for this very good cause. Credit chair Shelly Stayer with putting together a great event, featuring eloquent keynote speaker Dr. Jackson Katz and seeing to it that each guest received a bracelet and necklace from Chico’s. Kudos, too, to honorary chairs Jim and Martha Fligg, who are generous supporters of the shelter.

 

New Anchor

We’ve got a handsome new face coming into living rooms across Southwest Florida this summer. Peter Busch, an Emmy-winning journalist from Phoenix, joins us at the NBC-2 anchor desk. He replaces Len Jennings, who is moving to Kansas City for an anchor job. Peter and his wife, Rachel, have three daughters, including a newborn. A new baby seems to be a requirement these days if you want to be a news anchor in this town. Happy anchoring and parenting, Peter. You’re obviously a good fit already.

 

Garden Glory

Wow. we have watched for years as pr superstar Amy Gravina helped clients grow their businesses. Who knew her growth potential included her very own gardens? We all found out when she hosted a garden party at her home in Fort Myers in March for PACE Center for Girls of Lee County to thank loyal members of its Believing in Girls (BIG) Society. Guests enjoyed the butterfly gardens, fountains, citrus trees and sprawling oaks bordering Amy’s home off McGregor Boulevard and had a chance to meet this year’s Grand Dame honorees: Michel Doherty, Mavis Miller and Anna “Boots” Tolles. Previous honorees in attendance included Berne Davis, Eleanor Kleist, Barbara B. Mann and Kathleen Nealon.

 

 

After-Party Treat

Five stars to the florida Repertory Theatre for their powerful rendering of Red in March—and five stars to the after-party following opening night. The party was at the home of John and Fran Fenning and that is, indeed, a treat. Their 1920 riverfront villa, which meanders along the Caloosahatchee, is listed in the National Historic Registry and each room has impressive evidence of their amazing art collection. The retired orthopedic surgeon and his wife own one of the largest collections of artwork by Robert Rauschenberg. It somehow seemed fitting that Red is about Mark Rothko, considered a giant in Abstract Expressionism, and that Rauschenberg’s early work carried the same label. Spotted in the crowd of 100 or so guests were grande dame Berne Davis; Naples Winter Wine Festival trustees Dave and Cheryl Copham; FineMark Bank’s Joe Catti and his wife, JoAnn; and Naples artist Stefan Andreev. Call it a 10-star opening night and a very cool evening for all attendees.

 

‘60s Madness

And suddenly, woodstock came to Naples. That was the theme of Shelly Stayer’s 50th birthday party in February at The Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in a return to the madness of the ’60s. Just imagine the leisure suits, hippie beads and white go-go boots on the 100-plus guests as they got into the vibe of this very spirited evening. The birthday girl herself shimmered in her psychedelic pantsuit styled by a designer from Project Runway. The Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro, not only made the Woodstock-inspired cake but also delivered it to the party himself. Sweet move. Rock and roll is here to stay, at least for one glorious celebration.

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