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Kellie Burns' Scene & Heard: April

Help from Barbara Bush … Myra’s New Arts Project … Magic Johnson’s Gift

Celebrity Chef Andrea Ferrero, second from right, brought down the house at the McCurry-Fligg vintner dinner during the Naples Winter Wine Festival with a special pork dish imported from Italy.


Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, is on a hot streak. In addition to being named to chair the Florida Philanthropic Network Summit 2015 next January, she had a strong hand in bringing in a Barbara Bush Foundation pilot program to Lee County, where young children and their low-income parents can learn together. Sarah hints there’s more outside money headed to needy causes here in the near future … Designer Edward Wilkerson wowed the ladies at Saks Fifth Avenue at Waterside Shops in February when he presented his Resort Collection for Lafayette 148. His dazzling personality was also on display as talked about the things that inspire him and he stayed around to help the women shop ...



“Just another Friday night in Naples.”

—Jim Campbell, guest at the McCurry-Fligg wine dinner for the Naples Winter Wine Festival in January

The scene was David and Susie McCurry’s Park Shore penthouse, transformed into a beautiful garden with flowers and white lights as far as the eye could see. And celebrated Chef Andrea Ferrero of the Bulgari Hotel in Milan was describing how he had brought a Cinta senese piglet over from Italy because it’s the best pork in the world. That’s when guest Campbell offered his wry response to the amusement of the crowd on hand. And there were smiles aplenty for the rest of the eight-course dinner, too, which included lobster, wagyu beef, wild mushroom ravioli, fresh tilefish and goat cheese ice cream.


To read the entire article, pick up Gulfshore Life at select newsstands or purchase a copy of the digital edition. A full version of the story will be available on May 1. Or subscribe now to Southwest Florida's leading magazine.


You can count on Ave Maria President Jim Towey to bring his own charming spin to university proceedings, and so he did in February at a 10th anniversary event at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. The highlight: news that Myra Daniels, founder of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, will chair a project to build a $10 million performing arts center at Ave Maria. To capture the sense of distraction and chaos in doing his job, Jim had jugglers tossing pins back and forth in his immediate proximity and he showed his dexterity under pressure by spinning a basketball on one finger. Mr. Spin, indeed And by the way, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples were named the No. 1 and No. 2 best hotels in Naples in the U.S. News & World Report 2014 Best Hotel rankings … Basketball legend Magic Johnson pledged $100,000 to the Quality Life Center in Fort Myers in February and asked the community to follow his lead. The Q Center, which serves underprivileged kids in the Dunbar community, is facing foreclosure on its building. “We cannot close this center,” Magic told the crowd in his visit with families at the center Irrepressible restaurateur/ philanthropist Sandy Stilwell just keeps on innovating. Now she’s starting a trolley service on CaptivaIsland. It’s called S Car Go and should start running this spring



“Only Jim Jessee could work his charm and turn a $50 raffle ticket into an $8,000 auction item.”

—posted on Facebook by Tiffany Heck, development and major gifts officer for The Shelter for Abused Women and Children

After the winner of a golf trip for four and a diamond bracelet offered up the prize to the highest bidder at The Shelter’s Gentle’men Against Domestic violence men’s tailgate event, Jessee took to the dais to solicit bids from the crowd. The event ended up raising more than $150,000 for a program that sends men into local schools to talk about domestic violence with teen and pre-teen boys.


... The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida is investing $150,000 to establish the Southwest Florida Regional Center of Human Trafficking. Its chair, Lou Pontius, says, “Modern slavery is a woman’s issue since most victims are women and girls.” The center will be on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University. It will coordinate the work of various agencies investigating cases, track data on where it’s happening and aid efforts to catch traffickers We spoke of a Friday night at the Naples Winter Wine Festival, but let’s celebrate the three women—Linda Malone, Adria Starkey and Anne McNulty—who chaired the fabulously successful three-day event. With the support of about 500 guests, they raised a whopping $13.5 million for needy children in Collier County. The highest-selling lot? “This Bull Can Run.” Roger Penske paid $900,000 for a 50th anniversary, limited edition Lamborghini Aventador, the rarest and fastest Lamborghini ever built. Adria summed up: “It takes a village to make something as wonderful as this happen. Today, the entire village came out to show their love for the children of Collier County.” She told me the energy in the tent was fantastic, the bidding was at a frenzied pace and they are already asking this terrific trio to do it again next year … Jay Leno packed the house at Artis—Naples in February, less than a week after signing off as host of The Tonight Show, a job he held for 22 years. Fans lined up in the parking lot before his show, hoping to get tickets or even a glimpse of the popular star Trustees of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest introduced big bidders to the auction lots at a party in February at Jon Finstrom’s restaurant, Gordon’s on the River. What a cool little place tucked back behind the Naples airport. Who knew there was waterfront dining that far inland?



A sampling of money raised for local charities.

Rebuilding Children’s Lives Luncheon $300,000+

Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and Luncheon $250,000

Taste of New York $760,000

Under the Eiffel Tower $424,000

Wishmaker’s Ball $125,000

—Compiled by Hanna Romano


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