Thursday, March 31, 2011

Payton Wright Foundation Golf Tournament set for May 13

The Payton Wright Foundation will hold its fourth Annual Golf Tournament May 13 at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.

The tournament carries the name of a five-year-old Lakewood Ranch child whose battle with brain cancer touched a community's heart.

At the time of her passing in 2007, her family  said they wanted people to remember Payton for her strength, faith and humor -- all things that helped her survive, the Herald reported.

"Her strength because she lived so long. Her faith because she had such a peace about her and prayed on her own. Her humor because everyone had a funny story to tell about Payton, who never left the house without wearing a little bit of Tinkerbell makeup," the Herald reported.

The tourney is the largest fundraiser the foundation holds during the year. This year’s tourney has been expanded to include two courses. A post-golf banquet will once again be held at the Lake Club.

“We are very fortunate to receive such great support from our Community,” said Patrick Wright, president of the Payton Wright Foundation in a press release. “The success of this outing and the generosity of the businesses and people who donate to the outing allow us to expand the families we can help who have a child battling brain cancer.”

In the past year, more than $14,000 has been provided to families through gas cards, utility and mortgage payments.

The cost for playing in the outing is $200 per person, and banquet-only tickets are available for $50. Sponsorship and auction item donation opportunities are available.

The Payton Wright Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds for pediatric brain cancer research, helping families who have a child with brain cancer, and supporting organizations tied to cancer research and care.

Learn more at

Foursome wears Payton Wright's favorite colors. (provided photo)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lakewood Ranch Family earns $15,000 donation for All Childrens Hospital

From left, Brad Frank, co-owner and operator of Primrose School at
Lakewood Ranch, Cameron Phayre (front), Scott Phayre, Stephanie Hall,
director of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals program at
All Children's Hospital, and Sharon Frank, co-owner and operator
 of Primrose School at Lakewood Ranch. (provided photo)
A video produced by the Phayre family of Lakewood Ranch has won a third-place award worth a $15,000 donation to All Children’s Hospital in Sarasota.

Primrose Schools announced the award today.

Scott and Shelley Phayre, and their son, Cameron, produced the video, “Super Phayre Family,” in which the family of three morphs into Super Mario Bros. characters and transposes themselves into the video game, collecting coins for the All Children’s Hospital, according to a press release from Primrose School.

Cameron attends the Primrose School at Lakewood Ranch Town Center.

"Since he was two, our son Cameron has been going to speech therapy at All Children’s Specialty Care in Sarasota, a reason in itself for us to give back to the hospital,” said Shelley Phayre in the press release. "All Children's has also helped many families in our community, so we did everything we could to make a video that would make them proud."

The Family Dance-off is a national video contest by Primrose Schools that encourages families to step up the fight against childhood obesity by dancing for healthy, active lifestyles.

Families nationwide submitted 185 30-second home videos for the contest. More than 294,000 votes were cast.

The Phayre family won $1,500 in addition to the hospital donation.

She says she loves you, and you know that can't be bad . . .

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The sounds of the Beatles by Glass Onion headline the free Music on Main concert 6-9 p.m. Friday at Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

Robin Skinner and Marty Bullard, the two primary vocalists of the Glass Onion Band, are no johnny-come-latelys to the music of the Beatles. Both were among that vast TV audience in 1964 sitting rapt in front of their black-and-white TV sets when the Fab Four came on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Come on out Friday to enjoy the Glass Onion's presentation of songs from the greatest rock and roll band in history.

Guests are welcome to bring chairs, but are asked to leave coolers at home. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept on a short leash. Overflow parking is available at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

Proceeds from beer, wine and food sales will benefit RealRail, a nonprofit member-supported organization.

RealRail is dedicated to educating the public on the importance of Florida railroads of the past, present and future. A 3,500-square-foot Rail Center at 6804 14th St., Bradenton is open 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturdays with many working displays including a working rail yard.

Can you say "woo woo"?


Adult co-ed kickball league coming to Ranch

The Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department has announced the formation of the new 2011 Summer Lakewood Ranch adult co-ed kickball league.

League will play on Friday nights starting May 13 at Lakewood Ranch Park. A single elimination playoff will follow an eight game regular season.

Team registration fee is $400, which includes team shirts for a roster of up to 20 players.

An organizational meeting is set for 7 p.m. April 19 at the G.T. Bray Park Recreation Center, 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W., Bradenton.

Registration will be held from April 25 to May 1. For more information contact B.T. Mastin at 742-5923 or by email at

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mighty Myakka

MYAKKA CITY — Myakka City held its third annual Relay for Life fundraiser this past weekend to support the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer.

More than 1,000 attended the 18-hour event which hosted 22 teams from the local community.

The event raised over $60,000. The high point of the evening was the luminary ceremony which honored cancer survivors and remembered those who have lost their fight to cancer.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A different day at Sarasota Polo Club

A majestic sight: Old Glory commands the field. (Photo Jim Jones)
Levi Waxler signed the National Anthem. (photo Jim Jones)
Remember the Robert A. Uihlein Jr. Memorial Cup Finals last year at Lakewood Ranch?

Frankly, they were miserable. It was cold, windy, and wet. The tourney had to be switched to a different field because of drainage problems.

Those problems have all been fixed. Polo ponies were running on the main field, and the weather was spectacular. Brilliant clear sky, nice breeze. Perfect.

For the record, the Regent team won the finals.

Finishing second was Ten Oaks Polo, and third was High Points, said club manager Maggie Mitchell.

Most valuable player was Buck Schott.

The best playing pony award went to "Pumpkin," ridden by Josh Shelton.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Lakewood Ranch family's video competes for donation to benefit hospital

Scott, Cameron and Shelley Phayre.
A Lakewood Ranch family  is a finalist in a competition  to win a $30,000 donation to  All Children’s Hospital in the Family Dance-off, a national dance video contest promoting healthy lifestyles.

Scott and Shelley Phayre are asking for local residents to vote for their video to bring the $30,000 to All Children’s. Finalist voting ends March 26. The prize winners will be announced the week of March 28.

Scott and Shelley's son, Cameron, is a student at Primrose School at Lakewood Ranch. The Dance-off is a national project of Primrose Schools.

“Since he was two, our son Cameron has been going to speech therapy at All Children’s Specialty Care in Sarasota, a reason in itself for us to give back to the hospital,” said Shelley Phayre in a press release. “All Children’s has also helped many families in our community, so we did everything we could to make a video that would make them proud.”

The Phayre family is asking for folks to go to to vote up to five times a day.


Unpublished photo of Elizabeth Taylor found in Manatee family album

Patricia Droegemeier who photo of a young Elizabeth Taylor.
(Photo by Grant Jefferies)

Elizabeth Taylor at California campground.

Elizabeth Taylor, a great actor and humanitarian, died this week and was laid to rest Thursday.

What a life she lived, with more than her share of highs and lows.

Bradenton resident Patricia Droegemeier shared a photo of Liz from her family album, apparently taken sometime in the 1940s.

The photo was taken by her late mother-in-law, Sylvia Kraemer, on a camping trip in California.

The fresh young  face gives no hint of the tempestous events, the pain, and the triumphs that would come and make Elizabeth Taylor so enduringly famous and fascinating.

"Sylvia noticed a family camping  nearby and their very beautiful daughter," Patricia told me. The girl was so striking that Mrs. Kraemer asked to take her photograph.

"The girl said her name was Elizabeth and that she had been in some movies. Sylvia wrote the information on the back of the photo," Patricia said. The back of the photo lists "National Velvet," "Lassie Come Home," and "The White Cliffs of Dover."

"I found the photo in Sylvia's things just prior to her passing. I asked Sylvia, 'Who is this girl?'" Patricia said. And that's when Mrs. Kraemer recalled the chance meeting in a California campground.

Patricia's plans for the photo? To give it to Miss Taylor's family, if they would like it.

Back of photo listed titles of early Elizabeth Taylor movies.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sights from down on the farm

Inside the multipurpose accessory building at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery.
Cows, pigs, chickens: the sort of critters you might expect to see on a farm tour.

Recently, however, the Manatee River Soil & Water Conservation District gave tourists a little something different, including a stop in Duette at the winery of Larry and Lenora Woodham, and organic blueberries and heirloom tomato varieties at Felicia Tappan's Vintage Organic Acres.

Interest in farming remains surprisingly high. The tour was sold out, says Gail Somodi, soil conservation supervisor.

The annual spring farm tour is the sole fundraiser for the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District. Funds raised are used for educational events for Manatee County Students, for example land judging awards, Envirothon awards and T-shirts, and speech contest monetary awards, she said.

The tour is helps increase awareness about agricultural enterprises in Manatee County.


Recycled wine bottles outside the wine cave at Bunker Hill Vineyard and
 Winery. The bottles may be interesting to look at, but they
are also used to make distilled water for the wine process.

Inside the wine cave.

Have a new Mini Cooper with your Mini Blizzard

Melissa Messinger, a  Sarasota resident, recently celebrated her 17-year-old daughter's birthday with several family members at the Bradenton Dairy Queen.

In addition to her Mini Blizzard Treats, she received something she didn't expect: a set of keys to her new car, a Mini Cooper Countryman.

“I was shocked when they handed me the keys,” said Messinger in a press release. “It’s not every day you walk into a restaurant and walk out as a new car owner. I thank Dairy Queen so much for this incredible gift.”

The car giveaway was part of a Dairy Queen promotion  for customers who ordered a Mini Blizzard® Treat.

“To be part of this event is an awesome experience,” said Tracy Hirshauer who owns the Bradenton DQ Grill & Chill restaurant. “At Dairy Queen, we are all about families and creating smiles and stories and we certainly did that for the Messinger family today. Now anyone can go online and try to win a car too.”

Tracy Hirschauer, Emily, Rodney, Wayne and Melissa
Messinger and Mike Hirschauer
 Entry details, rules and regulations are available at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who knew Purim could be so much fun?

Here's an item from Chanie Bukiet of Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch:

 More than 150 attended the congregation's seventh-annual  Purim festival, themed Cirque De Purim, on Sunday.

The event proves it's possible to have a good time and observe a religious tradition.

Mix circus music, circus foods, eye-catching circus d├ęcor, and a circus themed masquerade and also give  participants a chance to fulfill the four commandments of Purim: (1) Listen to the Megillah (story of Purim); (2) give charity; (3) exchange food gifts; and (4) savor a Purim feast.

Circus performers from Circus Sarasota  interspersed with Jewish humor made for a lot of fun.

The children and the young at heart were mesmerized by the stunts, the music, and the magic of it all, Chanie said.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ranch resident wins Mercedes to benefit Miracle League field

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Kevin Fay of Lakewood Ranch is the winner a new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK 300, drawn in the 2011 “Miracles, Martinis, and Mercedes” raffle to benefit the The Miracle League of Manasota.

This was the first Miracles, Martinis, and Mercedes event and proceeds will go towards the Miracle League Field for players with disabilities in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Construction is expected to start  this summer with play starting in the fall.

The raffle party was held March 12 at Polo Grill & Bar in Lakewood Ranch. Fay purchased his winning ticket from a Miracle League volunteer.

“A promotion like this is so much fun because with odds of 1,000 to one, everyone has a pretty good chance to win. There is something about having the chance to win a new car that is exhilarating and you could see the excitement on the faces of the winner and all of our ticket holders,” said Bob Mitchell,  president of The Miracle League of Manasota.
Kevin Fay with his new Mercedes-Benz

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Nobody likes to get pinched, and many of the Lakewood Ranch supervisors wore green for their monthly meeting today in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

"Top of the morning to you," Michael Griffin said in opening the meeting of Community Development District 4, which represents, what else, Greenbrook.

June Stroup, chair of District 1, which represents Summerfield-Riverwalk, also paid tribute to the Irish saint in opening her meeting:  "We wish everybody a happy St. Patty's Day," she said.


Nancy Johnson and Michael Griffin were resplendent in green. That fancy green ring on Johnson's finger came from a Publix cupcake. (Photo by Jim Jones)
Alan Silverblat (left) andTom Bishop (right) served as green bookends at the District 5 meeting.  Tom Leavey (center) also upheld the honor of the Irish wearing dark green. Also shown are Marty Cohn and Dave Emison. (Photo Jim Jones)

Friday, March 11, 2011

8,000 is a nice round number

Pat Neal and Neal Communities celebrated their 8,000th house sold in Southwest Florida today.

Lauren Acton, a medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, was the buyer. Her new house is just across the street from LECOM, where she attends classes at Lakewood Ranch.

For more, see Saturday's Herald.

Tatiana Wilhelm (left) the first student to walk to class at Gullett Elementary from Lakewood Ranch's Central Park, helped Pat Neal recognize Lauren Acton (right) as the buyer of the 8,000th home sold by Neal Communities. (photo Jim Jones)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rep. Buchanan to hold town hall in East Manatee

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, announced today that he will hold a town hall meeting on jobs, the economy and health care in Parrish on Saturday.

“Jobs and the economy are the most important issue,” said Buchanan. “Congress needs to focus our efforts now on putting people back to work. I want to listen to the people and get their feedback, ideas and suggestions.”

Buchanan's town meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Parrish Community Center. The doors will open at 9:30 a.m. The venue is located at 12214 US 301 North, Parrish.

Call (941) 747-9081 if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweet time of the year

If you have orange, lemon or grapefruit trees in your yard, you have undoubtedly been enjoying the wonderful, sweet smell of all the blooms.

Jason McKendree enjoys an orange blossom. (Photo by James A. Jones Jr.)
Who can resist the aroma? Not  local cowboy Jason McKendree. He was driving through some of the rugged woods of Lakewood Ranch this week looking for some of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch's heifers that will be taking part in the Ranch Rodeo in Palmetto.

Jason put on the brakes when he came to a blooming orange grove. Here's Jason savoring a bloom.

Cowboys may be rough on the outside, but they often have a tender heart.

That Ranch Rodeo will be held at the Manatee County Fairgrounds. Lunch is served at 11 a.m., and the gates open at noon. Working cowboys will be competing in teams for the right to go to state competition this fall. Admission is $5 and goes to support the FFA.

For more, see Thursday's Herald.