The Sarasota Scene: Gulf Coast News & Events

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Van Wezel Foundation’s 17th Annual Gala


to feature music legend Barry Manilow

Grammy, Tony, and Emmy Award-winning musician and pop music icon Barry Manilow will make his Sarasota debut at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Friday, February 16, 2018, as the featured entertainer for The Van Wezel Foundation’s 17th Annual Gala in celebration of his latest album, This is My Town: Songs of New York. Fans will be in for a treat when they hear Manilow perform his greatest hits like “Copacabana” and “Mandy” as well as songs from his album on the intimate Van Wezel stage.

Barry Manilow’s unparalleled career encompasses virtually every area of music, including performing, composing, arranging and producing. A Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, Manilow has triumphed in every medium of entertainment.  With worldwide record sales exceeding 85 million and 50 Top 40 Hits, Barry Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time.

This year’s 17th Annual Van Wezel Foundation Gala promises to be a unique and special evening in celebration of the Foundation’s 30th Anniversary.  Gala reservations begin at $600 per person and include cocktails by the bay, live & silent auction, dinner catered by Michael’s on East, Golden Circle performance seating, and a fun-filled after-party featuring a soon to be announced band which will begin immediately following the show. A special VIP ticket option is also being offered again this year starting at $1,200.  For additional information on sponsorships Gala reservations and other underwriting opportunities visit or call the foundation at (941) 366-5578.

This year’s Gala will also include a chance drawing for an all-new 2018 Jaguar XE sponsored by Wilde Jaguar Sarasota. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold for a $100 donation per ticket. The lucky winner does not need to be present at the Gala to win. Contact the Foundation office after November 15th at 941-366-5578 or visit for details on how to obtain your chance to win!

This year’s Gala event planning is being presented by Mary Kenealy Events in partnership with a talented team of co-chairs (Kathy Martella, Marge Townsend and Susan Travers), committee members and staff of the Van Wezel Foundation.

Proceeds from this event help support the Van Wezel Foundation in its mission to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds.

The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange celebrates 65 years

The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, a nonprofit organization comprising more than 400 local members of the construction industry, is celebrating its 65th anniversary this month.

“It’s pretty amazing to be a part of an organization that has been here for 65 years —through good times and bad times,” said Mary Dougherty, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange.

Founded in 1952, the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange has been pivotal in guiding southwest Florida’s growth while also preserving its history. Over the years, the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange has overseen a number of significant historical restorations, including Sarasota’s original 1920 pump station, Paul Rudolph’s famous Umbrella House on Lido Key and the Siesta Key Beach Pavilion.

The organization was an early supporter of the creation of Nathan Benderson Park, which recently hosted the 2017 World Rowing Championships, as well as the new Atlanta Braves Spring Training facility currently under construction in North Port.

The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange recently spearheaded work on Sarasota County’s latest 10-year comprehensive plan and is currently helping to guide land development regulations and the unified development code. Additionally, this year the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange hosted a Construction Rodeo to introduce recent high school graduates to local careers in the trade.

“We remember our roots,” said Dougherty. “Local businesses, members doing business with members and being here regionally and locally — that’s a part of who we are. It’s a proud legacy to be a part of.”


SMH Working to Detect Lung Cancer at Earliest Stages

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System debuts a new Lung Cancer Screening Program that can detect cancerous nodules and lesions at the earliest, most treatable stages. 

One of the cancer team’s top priorities is encouraging high-risk smokers and ex-smokers to begin annual screenings with low-dose CT scans. While chest X-rays may show a visible mass or nodule, a CT (computed tomography) is the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer, says Sarasota Pulmonologist Joe Seaman, MD, who oversees Sarasota Memorial’s lung cancer screening program.  

Currently, lung cancer screening is recommended (and covered by most insurance plans and Medicare) for those at high risk of developing lung cancer – people between the ages of 55-77 who have smoked an average of one pack a day for 30 years (or two packs a day for 15 years). The criteria include current smokers as well as those who have quit in the past 15 years.

“Although many causes of lung cancer have been identified, cigarette smoking is far and away the strongest determinant, and we know this group is at highest risk,” said Dr. Seaman, adding that lung cancer rates are typically higher among men than women, and are particularly high among African American men.

Experts agree that low-dose CT screening for lung cancer carried out safely can save tens of thousands of lives a year. But because of the potential for false positives and radiation exposure, the American Cancer Society urges people at high risk to discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their healthcare provider so they can make an informed decision about whether to get screened. 

Sarasota Memorial is among a select number of hospitals nationally that has been designated a Lung Cancer Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance; it also earned designation last month as a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology. The designations recognize facilities that have committed to practice safe, effective diagnostic care for individuals at the highest risk for lung cancer.

For information about Sarasota Memorial’s Lung Cancer Screening Program, call (941) 917-5864 (LUNG).


The Hermitage Artist Retreat announced that Michael A. Gilkey Inc., a Sarasota county landscape architectural firm, has been hired to create and implement a landscaping plan for the gulf-front campus. The goal is to restore the property with native Florida plantings, create intentionally inspiring outdoor space for artists to work and to join the historic and administrative campuses in a way that is purposeful but not evident.

The new Hermitage landscape will utilize a native, indigenous palette of materials to create areas of beauty and privacy for artists, as well as gathering spaces for small and large groups. The plan will revise the circulation of the retreat, providing a sense of separation between artists and the public without isolating the groups completely. This project will be broken down into workable phases. The first phase will include a complete, accurate survey of the retreat, the restoration and renovation of the landscape at The Palm House, and the planting of a native buffer along Manasota Key Road.

State College of Florida Foundation Presents 2017-18 Sundays at Neel

Now in its 16th year, the State College of Florida Foundation will host the 2017-18 Sundays at Neel entertainment series at the SCF Neel Performing Arts Center, 5840 26th St. W. Six shows will take place between Dec. 10 and March 25. All concerts begin at 2 p.m.

Sundays at Neel is a series of fundraising concerts that benefit State College of Florida Foundation scholarships. The series kicks off Dec. 10 with a “Snowfall Holiday Concert” headlined by The Four Freshmen, one of America’s most enduring vocal groups featuring open-harmonic jazz with big band swing. Other performances will include:

  • Sun. Jan. 18, Jukebox Junction – Combining “The Glenn Miller Orchestra” and “The Diamonds” into one performance.
  • Sun. Jan. 28, TUSK – Covers all the hits of Fleetwood Mac replicating the sounds of one of the world’s top-selling bands.
  • Sun. Feb. 11, The New Christy Minstrels – One of the most requested acts at SCF’s Neel, Randy Sparks continues to lead this Grammy award-winning music group.
  • Sun. Feb. 18, The Jersey Tenors – The Jersey Tenors create a blend of iconic opera classics with industry greats such as Queen, ABBA, and Elton John.
  • Sun. March 25, Ethan Bortnick – A piano prodigy and Florida native, the 16-year-old performs the music of Mozart as well as Little Richard and Billy Joel.

For more information and to view preview videos of each group, visit

Single tickets are $40 in advance, $45 day of show. Discounted season subscriptions also are available. Five-show subscriptions (excluding TUSK) are $150, while a subscription for all six shows is $180. To order tickets, visit or contact SCF’s Neel box office at 941-752-5252.

Key to the Cure 2017: Party with a Purpose Raises over $200,000 

More than 50 volunteers helped make the event a success and the promotional campaign featured cancer survivors who received treatment at Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System.

2017 Event Co-chairs  

Over 900 people attended the 12thAnnual Key to the Cure “Party with a Purpose” hosted by Saks Fifth Avenue – The Mall at University Town Center, benefiting Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc.  

Since 2005, over $1.5 million has been raised to support Women’s Cancer Services at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. Funding from Key to the Cure has helped cover approximately 1,000-breast health visits for low-income or uninsured residents who need breast health screenings and/or diagnostic tests.

Co-chairs for this year’s event included, Diana & Matt Buchanan, Donna & David Koffman, Ashley Kozel & Marko Radisic, and Dr. Michael & Kelly Van Vliet.

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