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Real Talk

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Sheryl Vieira shares thoughts on the community, good deeds and important things, big and small.

Summer is a special time to enjoy a slower pace. Parents stop running around taking their kids here and there for school and after school programs and practices. Events in town come to a crawl. Vacations are enjoyed.
In this month’s RealTALK, we take in a sunset at Selby to help Suncoast Charities, which spreads love to five non-profit agencies serving over 8,000 clients with special needs. We take a quick jaunt down to Miami to help fight childhood hunger and then to Jupiter to capture the perfect sunrise photographs with the Lakewood Ranch Digital Photography Club. We then say goodbye to a strong-willed young boy, who accomplished so much in his short life, all while fighting and facing the battle of his life, but keeping others first in his heart and helping hands for as long as he could. children

Riding into the Sunset at Selby

More than 400 Sarasotans who love the water, boating and a casual, fun event attended the 33rd Grand Prix Festival Kickoff Party at Michael’s on the Bay at Selby Gardens. The evening was full of festivities, tastings, grazing and bidding. Kettle of Fish entertained and buyers bid on the plethora of auction items. Julian Parry gave some cash to Jill Raleigh for the 50/50 raffle and she WON $1,680, which, together, they graciously donated back! New this year was the “Winners Circle,” which enabled guests to make a pledge in support of client services. These pledges totaled $15,000, with final net proceeds exceeding $50,000.
Seen in the crowd were John Saputo, Ernie Garcia, Kelly Ambercrombie, Liz Taft, Larry Eurto, Sarah Catell, Jack and Andrea Cox, Kelly and Melissa Caldwell, Timothy Raines, Donna Koffman, Holly Holton and Lucy Nicandri who by the way, just won the first ever David R. Mills “Service Above Self” Award presented by the Sarasota Sunrise Rotary Club. Andy Lyman conceived the idea for the award in February.
Net proceeds raised from this event enables Suncoast Charities for Children to provide an annual grant to the Suncoast Foundation. In turn, the Foundation supports five local nonprofits, which combined serve 8,000+ clients with special needs (Loveland Village, Sarasota County Special Olympics, Children First, The Haven, and Florida Center for Early Childhood).

All Access to South of Fifth Culinary Tour

Timothy Raines, a local artist and friend, posted on his Facebook page that he was one of the featured artists at the annual Experience SOFI (Formerly South of Spice) event in Miami. It sparked my interest, as most things culinary-related do. Experience SoFI is an all access pass to the luxurious South of Fifth neighborhood, which gets taken over by 20+ chefs, globally acclaimed artists, spirits, wines and area restaurants during this event. Carpe diem! I invited my sister and nieces to stay overnight with me.
We arrived at our lodgings, a quaint boutique hotel called Sense Beach House. It helped that it was conveniently located and happened to be our event check-in and first stop on the culinary tour! Located within the hotel is a bona fide shabby chic seafood café called The Local House. We immediately noticed Ryan Matthews of the television show 90210 sitting outside with his girlfriend as people stopped by for a photograph.children
Participating restaurants crafted their chef’s culinary creations and guests enjoyed tastings from Red, the Steakhouse, Cibo Wine Bar, Joe’s Stone Crab, and The Local House. New additions included Bakehouse Brasserie, South Point Tavern, DIRT- Eat Clean, Lilikoi Organic Living, Texas de Brazil, Rossella’s Kitchen, Nikki Beach, Gelato-Go and Ramona LaRue. Nationally acclaimed artists were showcased throughout the event. This year’s featured artists included Gerald and Trisha Posner, Lebo, Le Creep, Ari Azzopardi, Patrick Willard and Timothy Raines.
David Le Batard, better known in the art world as Lebo, is recognized for working in a wide spectrum of creative mediums including murals, paintings and sculptures. Born to Cuban immigrant parents and raised in South Florida, Lebo has become one of the most well-respected muralists in Miami. With a showroom in Wynwood and a studio in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood, Lebo’s art can be found all over the world, in private collections and in corporate partnerships including Norwegian Cruise Lines, Lulu Lemon, Harley Davidson, Audi, Google, Microsoft, Redbull, Ketel One, Bacardi and Ferrari.
Timothy Raines is the brand artist. He is the master of utilizing an established symbol of an emblem to evoke emotion. He captures essence of the icons of the luxury and sporting lifestyle with a flair for the dramatic and paintings that are charged with explosive energy. Timothy has been an award-winning artist from the early age of six, receiving many awards and accolades from multiple competitions. He focuses on the art of iconic brands that stand for something more than mere materialism; creations that were launched by craftsmen, artists, thinkers and creators that set out to build something better and lasting.  His extensive client list includes: Aston Martin, Michelin, HGTV, ABC, Major League Baseball (MLB), MLB teams and players, the MLB Foundation and more.
We found Timothy set up at the Cibo Wine Bar. We stopped in quickly to say hello, knowing we’d be back for the after party. He was busy – meeting and mingling with buyers – so we left him to it.
The Local House served goat cheese croquettas and grilled Mahi tacos accompanied by a premier tasting of South Beach Brewery craft beers. Lilikoi Organic Living offered Hawaiian-style Ahi Poke, Vegan Sprouted Mung Bean Stew (a chili-like vegan dish) and house-made Falafel and Tzatziki. Nikki Beach had a photo booth capturing the event in fun photographic fashion and served Koh Samui Thai Beef salad and a Hawaiian tuna poke. Both were very tasty. Of the restaurants, our favorite stop was at Forte de Marmi. Cozy, comfortable and delicious. Here, we sampled octopus salad, seafood risotto of clams, calamari and mussels and Linguine alla Nerano. Dinner reservations here are a must next time we visit.
While the weather was warm, we enjoyed chauffeured transportation in cool comfort provided by Key Transportation. Our driver was the kindest gentleman and ever patient as the ladies entered and exited the vehicles wearing their Miami best.
Once guests completed their individual culinary tours, we gathered for the Celebrity Cruises After Party hosted at Cibo Wine Bar. Aside from experiencing delicious food and beverages, guests at the after party joined in on a silent disco where guests were offered headphones that changed colors depending on the station they were listening to. You could witness people dancing to the same tune you were listening to or see others expressing themselves to three other beats. It was a colorful and energetic display, to say the least. We’re looking forward to next year’s culinary tour – Sense Beach House already has our reservation.
Experience SOFI benefits CI Foundation’s EAT SMART Program, which focuses on the battle against childhood hunger and childhood obesity by finding the perfect balance through nutritional awareness, health, wellness and exercise.

“Hunger also changes the world.
When eating can’t be a habit, then neither can seeing.”
-Maxine Hong Kingston

Picture Perfect

There is always more to learn, especially when it comes to photography.
The Lakewood Ranch Digital Photography Club, which I have been a member of for the past four years, is a growing, very professional yet fun group of photographers of all levels. children
As I volunteered to assist on the photography competition the Sarasota Bay Water Festival was conducting a few years ago, I collected entries at Caldwell Trust’s Sarasota office on Main Street; in walks Larry George to drop off his entry. He introduced me to the idea of the club and a while later welcomed me as a member.children
The Lakewood Ranch Digital Club and the friends I’ve made there have enriched my life. The members are mentors and friends, the topics and speakers are robust and the extra projects, field trips, photoshop classes, tips and tricks are endless – and so fun! Mike McNaughton teaches the photoshop classes before our monthly club meetings and is an amazing teacher. The most fun is our 52-week photography blog challenge that Mindy Towns created three years ago. Themes are assigned for each week of the year to be captured
and blogged. children
A group of us went on what was my second field trip, thanks to Mindy Towns, club president, who mentioned the trip to me at one of our monthly club meetings at Woodland Church. The first field trip was a few years back to a cemetery, where I modeled as a mourning military wife at a gravesite. The second trip was to Jupiter for a sunrise/sunset weekend with around twenty others. children
We stayed at the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa. Our first meeting was a strategy session, determining our shoot locations and choosing our equipment. Dave MacDonald is a club member who acted as our long-distance trip coordinator; he determined when and where to meet, parking and dining and kept everyone on track. We enjoyed a sunset photograph session at Coral Cove Park, and awoke early to capture sunrise photographs at the Jupiter Beach Lighthouse. After the back-to-back photo sessions, I attended my massage at the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, while my friend went for a dive with Jupiter Dive Center. He was on a quest to find sharks and I was on a quest for some rest! Our Sunday sunrise from our beach hotel was by far the best photo op for this amateur photographer. The sun, clouds, and sky cooperated fully (as did my equipment!). children
It’s truly astounding how passion propels you forward, pushes you to do new things and gets you out of your comfort zone. Developing all the necessary skills required for photography is best accomplished in an environment in which everyone shares in the learning process, exchanging knowledge and experience. That collaboration is what keeps me coming back every year as a club member. Whether it is through professional critique found in competition, instruction from highly talented photographers, field trips for specific photo opportunities, or focus groups in a smaller environment, LWRDPC members can find the support they need, for which I am so thankful!

Helping Others Every Step of the Way children

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Suncoast introduced Todd Currey, “the Big”, and Tony Colton, “the Little”, over six years ago. They enjoyed their meetups and time spent together boating, fishing and giving back to the community in which they both lived. That was right about the time Tony found out he had cancer. In his short life, he impacted others around the world.
Tony was born on October 18, 1999 in Tampa. He attended Brentwood Elementary, where he was a member of Odyssey of the Minds, then went to McIntosh Middle followed by Sarasota Christian School, where he was a senior. He served on the Advisory Board at All Children’s Hospital and volunteered for 6 years as the spokesperson for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. He was also involved with the Junior National Society, as Vice President. In October 2016, Tony began the New Outlook Foundation. The organization serves as a gateway for communication for children newly diagnosed with cancer, connecting them with other foundations and resources. Through the kindness and generosity of all those who knew and supported Tony, his dream of establishing this foundation will develop under the leadership of the Ryan Callahan Foundation. children
Tony lobbied on Capitol Hill to advocate for more research and funding for pediatric cancers in July, 2014; he served as a spokesperson for Cure Fest in Washington D.C. in Sept. 2014; he was a pediatric representative for Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota each year from 2014 through 2017; he was a speaker for All Children’s Hospital Miracle Ball in 2015 and 2017; he was a recipient of the Sneaker Soiree Sports Community Hero Award in June 2015. Tony was also a recipient of the Lightening Community Hero Award in 2016; he received 50K in charitable funds to be used towards three foundations of his choice – the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, All Children’s Hospital, and Sarasota Christian School; he participated in Coop’s Catch for Kids Charity in October 2016, founded by Coach Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning; he was active in the Sarasota County Commerce Leadership Programs in 2016 and 2017; he was a recipient of the Omer’s Award at the Odyssey of the Minds World Competition in May 2017; a recipient of the Anne Frank Humanitarian award received at the Holocaust Museum also in May, 2017; he worked as a camp counselor at Lakewood Retreat Camp; participated in mission trips to West VA and Haiti; was involved with numerous local outreach activities in his community, and assisted at Vacation Bible School every year from 2013.
Tony faced hardship, but got through it with his mother, Connie Colton, by his side. His girlfriend Vanessa helped to brighten many of his days. He peacefully said goodbye to all, and in standard Tony fashion his family received a call that he was a candidate for cornea donation. They said yes, knowing that Tony would jump at the chance to help someone to see. children
What are we here for if it’s not to help others? Please make today matter for you and for those in your life. Becoming an organ donor is an easy way to start.

Feed them, love them, don’t judge them and don’t forget your camera! What if they’re gone tomorrow? children

 

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