Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nice round number for Gullett Elementary

Even in good times, you hear about teachers using some of their own money to pay for classroom needs.

Given the fact that it's been awhile since we've had those good times, and there have been multi-million dollar budget cuts in the Manatee School District, we seize upon any silver lining. Consider this: the faculty and staff at Lakewood Ranch's B.D. Gullett Elementary School are smiling with the $34,000 they received from Neal Communities Golf Challenge.

Proceeds from the golf tourney, after expenses, were  $19,100. Pat Neal, president of Neal Communities, topped it off with a $15,100 donation, making the total $34,200.

The tourney was held at University Park Country Club.

“Schools are facing significant challenges in being able to purchase the supplies, equipment and materials necessary to teach our children,” Pat Neal said in a press release.” Schools are vitally important to the health of any community, and we stand by them to help them complete their mission. B.D. Gullett Elementary School is an excellent school with a strong PTO.”

Congratulations to Gullett and to Neal Communities.

Pat Neal presents a nice, big check to faculty, staff and students at Gullet Elementary School.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good-tasting soup

There was some really good-tasting soup served last week at Empty Bowls events at Lakewood Ranch Main Street and Renaissance on 9th in Bradenton.

Mine was a hearty mulligatwany from Polo Grill, a takeoff I think on Mulligan stew.

Today, the Food Bank of Manatee announced that Empty Bowls  raised more than $20,000, doubling the amount raised last year.

"We are so pleased with the outcome of this year's event," said Ellen Campbell, president/CEO of the food bank.

Great fun, this communal slurping of soup for a good cause, helping meet a critical community need.

The bowls were cool too, crafted by local potters.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Go do: An eclectic menu of things to do in East Manatee

Got an empty spot in your entertainment schedule? A few suggestions:

1. The art of the Frisbee toss: The Ultimate Players Association Club Championships features 60  of the top open, women’s, mixed and masters Ultimate teams from across the U.S. and Canada competing for the championship title in their division. Play began 9:30 a.m. today and continues  9 a.m. -  5 p.m. daily through Sunday at the polo grounds at Lakewood Ranch.

The public is invited to attend free of charge, but please, no dogs or glass bottles.

2. The second Chowdown for Charity: The event benefits the Manatee County Food Bank and Prostart, a program to give added employability skills to high school grads.

Chowdown is set for 5-8 p.m. today at the Gold Coast Eagle Hospitality Courtyard, 7051 Wireless Court, Lakewood Ranch.

Last year’s celebrity judges — Rep. Bill Galvano, Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, Brighthouse Networks reporter Summer Smith, and Bradenton Herald columnist Vin Mannix — return to judge the best of the best among several area restaurants. 

Tickets are $40 each or two for $70 and can be purchased online at

3. BooFest:  LWR Community Activities and local volunteers will transform Lakewood Ranch Main Street into a screaming scene of scarecrows, ghosts and goblins for the 5th annual BooFest 6-9 p.m. Friday. All are invited to dress in costume and join the community parade down Main Street.

Everybody is invited.

4.  Hunsader pumpkin fest: Continues Saturday and Sunday at family farm on County Road 675, midway between State Road 64 and State Road 70.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

10,000 marchers make strides against cancer

Ten thousand men,women and children walked  3.1 miles today at Lakewood Ranch to combat women's number-one health concern, breast cancer.

The goal was to raise $425,000, said Cynthia McCue, executive for the Manatee County Unit of the American Cancer Society.

"It's so touching to see all the survivors come together and share this time," McCue said.

An estimated 363 survivors led the massive column of pink out of the Sarasota Polo Grounds, under a flurry of balloons released at the start of the walk.

Many in the crowd knew someone who has or has had breast cancer.

Tracy Bohlman, an eighth grade teacher at Haile Middle School, said she thought the gigantic statement against breast cancer "was amazing."

Saturday's event was her third "Making Strides" fundraiser, and she helped organize a school team in honor of Haile orchestra teacher Valerie Terry, a breast cancer survivor.

Bambi Kaine fired up walkers before the start of Making Strides.
Eveyln Turner of Lakewood Ranch (left) and Cheryl Graham of Greyhawk Landing were among thousands "Making Strides" against breast cancer on Saturday.
Sandy Host's T-shirt read "Fight Like a Girl" at the Making Strides event Saturday.
"We love you Valerie," members of the Haile team chimed in.

For more, see Sunday's Bradenton Herald.


Friday, October 22, 2010

$20,000 for Manatee Food Bank?

On Thursday, 430 turned out for the Empty Bowls event at Renaissance on 9th in Bradenton.

Today, an equal number was at Lakewood Ranch Main Street, helping raise an estimated $20,000 for the Manatee Food Bank. That doubles the take from last year.

"It was really important to do well this year with the way the economy is and the need in the community," said Kristen Theisen. All that money goes to help the hungry in the community.

The event got a break this year with the weather. The past two years it rained on Empty Bowls, but this year the mild, sunny day made for a perfect setting.

About 20 restaurants served soup this year. Lauren Percitti of Polo Grill was one of the servers.

"It was very, very fun and we saw a lot of new faces," she said.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Lucky, but not that lucky


Did you buy the winning $66 million lottery ticket at Lakewood Ranch?
No, me neither.

But I was at the new Lakewood Ranch McDonald's today, which is right next door to the Hess station on State Road 64 East that sold that big ticket.The McDonald's opened about two weeks ago.

I won a breakfast sandwich with my McDonald's meal. Not quite the same as the big lottery ticket, but I'll share.

For more see the story and column by Vin Mannix at these links: