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Scene & Heard: You're Wearing Me Out.

Kids were the big winners as Cal Ripken helped open up Baker Field in Naples and the Lee County PACE Center for Girls signed up 14 new mentors.

Photography by Erik Kellar


     “Nothing is worse than knowing your child is in pain and being helpless to quickly make it better.” In a moving and courageous speech at the annual Lee County PACE Center for Girls luncheon last November, Fort Myers attorney John Agnew spoke of his teenaged daughter’s struggle to succeed after being abused. He credited PACE with helping her get her life back on track and in the emotional follow-up: She was awarded a scholarship to Florida Gulf Coast University, and 14 women in the audience signed up to be BIGS, meaning big sisters in PACE who agree to support the girls financially and as mentors. Way to step up, PACE-setters.


     What a hall of fame moment we had when Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken came to Naples in November to dedicate Baker Field (as in Jay and Patty Baker) for use by local kids. It’s right next to the Boys & Girls Club, and Cal literally pitched right in. He threw balls right over the plate and watched some of the kids really blast wicked shots to far corners of the new field. “You’re wearing me out,” he told them. A standing O to Cal, his Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and the Bakers for supporting it. Play ball, children of Southwest Florida.


     Speaking of pitchers (though Cal made his living as a shortstop) … Major League hurler Derek Lowe delivered some good cheer to a deserving youngster by tossing a football hero his way. Derek bought the live auction package “Tebow Terrific” at the Fifth Annual Breakfast with the Blades at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point and gave it to Joseph West, eight, who’s an oncology/hematology patient at the Golisano Children’s Hospital. New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is young Joseph’s hero, and Derek’s gift will enable him to meet Tim when he comes to Naples in March as the headliner for the Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speaker Series. That’s a home run or touchdown or whatever you want to call this dream come true for a kid who needs a boost.


     Well now we know: $1.2 million in Naples will get you country star LeAnn Rimes singing, celebrity chef Tom Colicchio cooking and 150 guests tapping their feet and smacking their lips. This was the payoff for a winning bid at last year’s Naples Winter Wine Festival auction at the home of Michael DeGroote and Gillian Campbell, courtesy of the lot’s creators, Bob and Joan Clifford (2102’s co-chairs). The more you contributed to the bid, the closer to the stage you sat for Rimes’ performance. The star wattage sure lit up the November night sky. The eye-opening take will certainly brighten the lives of many underprivileged Collier kids.


     What can you say about 600 women in festive hats and fascinators coming together in November for the annual Hats in the Garden luncheon at the Naples Botanical Garden? Well, someone in the crowd was heard to utter, “I live in New York and no one dresses up this much, let alone for lunch.” Let the word go forth: This was a grand show of style, a tremendous turnout and a record take of more than $500,000 for the Garden. And how do you top the elite presence of designer Michael Kors and the parade of his latest items? So there, New York.

New York had nothing on Naples during Hats in the Garden, which featured high fashion on its attendees and fashion designer Michael Kors.


     Christin (“energizer bunny”) Collins took home the APEX Award from the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce in November, joining previous winners Samira Beckwith, Sandy Stilwell, Rose Rundle, Gail Markham, Sarah Owen and Dr. Mary Kay Peterson on stage at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point for a final dance. As senior development director for the Lee Memorial Hospital foundation, she’s spearheading the effort to raise money for the Golisano Children’s Hospital… Congratulations to Bruce Seigel, marketing director at The Ritz-Carlton, on his engagement to Paula Purcell … and kudos to my friend Joe Catti, president of Finemark Bank and Trust, for his Voice of the Year award. Voices for Kids honored him for his ongoing commitment to bettering the lives of children in Lee and Collier counties.



     It was all eyes on the centerpieces at October’s Key to the Cure breakfast to raise money for breast cancer patients at Lee Memorial Hospital. This was outside the entrance to the Saks Fifth Avenue store at the Bell Tower Shops and the idea was to auction off such table decorations as a glass cowboy boot packed with roses and topped off with tickets to see Alan Jackson in concert. The 15 table hostesses included Sonya Sawyer, Heather Christie, Nannette Staropoli, Sandy Stilwell and Heather Fitzenhagen and their creations raised a record $30,000. Right on, ladies.

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