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From the Editor

You know nbc2 anchor kellie Burns on screen: bright, trustworthy, engaging. A-1 newsperson. We respect and appreciate all that. But there’s another Kellie Burns to us at Gulfshore Life, too. She’s our "Scene & Heard" columnist and a charity event emcee for us and many others—and that’s the one I want to share with you. The gal with the huge, huge heart and cheerful wit that warms audiences and defuses the occasional glitch. Beyond her day job, Kellie works 120 charity events a year. We celebrate her generous spirit and count ourselves lucky that she shares what she sees and hears with the readers of this magazine (see "Scene & Heard" on p. 50). I
asked her what she remembers most about her adventures on the charity beat, and she told me of funny times, surprising ones and moments that touched her deeply.

Mann Up

So picture this. Kellie’s signed on to emcee an event to honor Barbara B. Mann in front of 600 guests on the lawn of the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers. She should have known it would not be an ordinary operation when she received no script from the organizers. "There I was during the preliminaries," says Kellie, "racing around, taking notes for my presentation on cocktail napkins." But this gets even better. One of her informants was Frank Mann, Barbara’s son, and he told Kellie that his mother thought she had come to a "podunk cow town" when she first got here. "So I include this in my remarks to the audience," Kellie recalls, and, whoops, up stands Barbara B. Mann and declares to all: "That’s just not true." Her son shouted back that it was. And a good, lively back-and-forth ensued while the ceremonies were put on hold. Order was shortly restored, and Kellie saw to it that a good time was had by all. "I came to emcee and ended up doing family conflict resolution," Kellie recalls with a laugh. All in a night’s work.

(G)Nash Your Teeth

Trouble came early another time at an Arts for ACT event. Kellie’s job was to read the description of the auction items and TV actress Niecy Nash was supposed to work the crowd to bid up the items. But sometime in the first hour, actress Nash just disappeared … never to be seen again. Ever quick on her feet, Kellie spotted a fellow in the crowd she knew had done some auctioning. The two of them improvised their way to a very successful fundraiser.

There was also a celeb-crisis at Arts for ACT when actress Sharon Stone was the auctioneer. She carped at the bidders for not being generous enough, and Kellie felt that Ms. Stone had overstepped. This time it was Kellie who left the stage. "I wasn’t comfortable with how hard she was being on people during tough economic times," says Kellie of her bailout. Take that, Hollywood star.

"So Worth It"

Kellie admits to tearing up on the job when emceeing a Gulfshore Life Philanthropists of the Year event in 2008. The outstanding youth award went to Jeanette Arvizu, a courageous young woman who posted great grades and donated much time to helping others—even though her parents had to move away to find paying jobs. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Kellie told her story and then brought Jeanette on for her touching acceptance speech. Deeply moved, Kellie recalls, the leaders of FGCU and Edison State offered her four-year scholarships on the spot. "This was an event that was so worth it," Kellie says, still emotional about the memories.

Mom’s Date

No babysitter? That was the dilemma when the help backed out at the last minute before Kellie was to emcee a Casino Night fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Estero. So son Jack, 5, got dressed for the occasion and had a neat night out. He was given a room just backstage, and all hands brought him toys and just had a ball fussing over him. "I’d do my thing on stage," says Kellie, "and then run back to hang out with Jack, and then step out front for more work again. Talk about multi-tasking. Wow. On the way home, Jack turned to me and said, ‘Can I be a date again?’" A gal could do worse.

So stay tuned to Kellie for your nightly news. But tune in, too, to what she’s doing after hours for the community. And don’t forget to check "Scene & Heard" regularly. She’ll keep you clued in for sure.

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