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Scene & Heard

Calendar girls, too

This was the party that had it all. The 22nd annual Wanderlust gala at Florida Gulf Coast University in April turned Shirlene Elkins loose and that Maestro of Extravaganzas got the campus rocking. When it was all done, the event raised $260,000 for the school’s Resort and Hospitality Program, and supporters agreed she had brought the gala to the next level. But that step up was also about the flair and the fun.

The setting was Sugden Hall, the amazing facility where the students learn their trade, and guests got to sip their wine in the tasting room, sample delicacies in the chef’s kitchen, kick back in the spa and swing a club where the golf simulator was set up.

And then there were the Calendar Girls—Shirlene’s pals Heidi Farrugia, Denise Cobb, Kirsten Ferrara, Donna Solimene, Shelia Davis, Retta Singer, Penny Anderson and Sheryl Pfeifer. They were tagged as such by auctioneer Scott Roberston, who pointed out that they bid so often, each one deserves to be a month on the calendar. "It was an electric evening," noted Ron Albeit, chairman of the program’s advisory board. Thanks, Shirlene, for
powering up the on button.

Magnolia Thanks

How gracious of Suzanne and Bob Chute to host an appreciation dinner last March for the 56 founding couples of the Magnolia Ball at Old Collier Golf Club. There’s a lot of appreciation to go around since they founded the Ball 10 years ago: Over this time, the event has raised more than $6 million to provide a healing environment for cancer patients. With her keen focus and flair, Suzanne brought off a fabulous dinner, featuring organic fare with a theme centered around the Magnolia officinalis, which has been used for centuries in China for its medicinal properties. Definitely a feel-good evening all around.

Cliff’s New DVD

Hear, hear…I was lucky enough to be part of a group invited in April to the Bell Tower movie theaters for a private screening of Cliff Williams’ latest DVD. The celebrated bass player for AC/DC surrounded himself with the likes of his banker Joe Catti, his jeweler Mark Loren, his lovely wife Georganne, and other pals and well-wishers for a showing of his group’s concert—"Live in River Park"—in Buenos Aires. After its premiere in London in May, the DVD went into national release here. Cliff is enjoying some down time after a two-year, 28-country tour with "Black Ice," which grossed a handsome $445 million. Just love the sound of his music—and those numbers.

Star Writer Helps

Talk about putting up the numbers: The oh-so-popular novelist and screenwriter Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle) helped the organizers of the Hope Ball more than double their fundraising goal of $50,000 for their February event at the Marco Island Historical Museum. More than 140 guests attended this outing in support of the American Cancer Society. Credit the Sparks effect to board member Kari Wagner and her husband, Todd, who are personal friends of the best-selling writer.

Cutting Edge

Consider Naples plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Turk a cut above. The man who does so much to keep local women looking young and beautiful was cited in an ad for Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. in The New York Times as being one of the top 32 cosmetic surgeons in the nation. See the Castle Connolly ratings of top doctors in this region starting on page 50. We salute—and appreciate—them all.

White On

Gulfshore Life

Surprise! Surprise!

Probably the last thing you’d want to be wearing when you meet a member of a U.S. President’s family is a clown suit. But that’s just how prominent Naples entrepreneur Ellin Goetz was dressed (on her way to a costume party) when she met Chelsea Clinton. The former first daughter was spending some time in Naples this past winter with a group of friends gathered for an upcoming wedding. Ellin knows the owner of the house where the gals were staying and stopped by to drop something off. Guess who answered the door? "The look on Chelsea’s face was priceless," Ellin told me, "but she quickly gained her composure and was very kind and gracious." Nothing like those political genes when caught by surprise.

Film Buzz

Former Ambassador to Portugal Al Hoffman and his wife Dawn were scheduled to be back in Fort Myers last March, coming not as former celebs in the community, but, rather, as proud parents. Their talented daughter Libby had brought her newly completed documentary film Fambul Tok to the Fort Myers Film Festival at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Al ended up not feeling well enough to make the trip, but many of the Hoffman friends were on hand and were deeply moved by the compelling story of the reconciliation process occurring in Sierra Leone. "We were awestruck," said Connie Rosellini who attended along with her husband Lou. "After the film," Connie reports, "we had serious discussion about how you could forgive and live among people who had killed family members." It looks as if Libby’s following the family mission of caring public service.

Celeb Waiters

Have I got Canterbury tales for you. The Canterbury Gala in March at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort raised $140,000 for scholarships to the Canterbury School. And who could resist hearing Bad Company’s Brian Howe serenading the guests with the band’s hit song Feel Like Making Love? (As a child of the ‘80s, I remember singing all the words at the top of my lungs as it blared from the stereo in my mom’s maroon Cadillac Seville.) Brian, who now calls Fort Myers home, was gracious enough to serve as a celebrity waiter, along with the Downtown Diva, many teachers and headmaster Tony Paulus. With song and good cheer, they got knives, forks and checkbooks moving and shaking. Good show, folks.

was certainly doing The White Thing for its cool party in April in the gorgeous setting of the Naples Botannical Garden. More than 200 guests in their splendid whites came out to celebrate the magazine’s Home & Design issue. Attendees included Heather Fitzenhagen, Dr. Stanley and Ina Gulin, Michael and Gisele Saadeh, Marie Christine St. Pierre and Jessica Stilwell. The highlight of the affair? One guest told me it was the painted woman positioned as the centerpiece of a table and surrounded by Godiva chocolates. Would it surprise you that she drew quite a crowd?
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