Conservancy of Southwest Florida announces summer programs

Parents looking for a fun and educational way for kids to spend time over the summer – consider the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is now offering new summer activities, including a Little Explorer pre-k programs, guided kayak tours, Junior Vet Lab, wildlife hospital exhibits and an environmental education lecture series.

Led by Conservancy representatives, guests will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with native reptiles, ocean cr
eatures, and occasionally catch a glimpse of rehabilitating wildlife. Daily Education Programs will begin from May 1 through Oct. 31 at 11 a.m. at the Wildlife Hospital Nursey Viewing Window.

Daily programs include:Photo 3

11 a.m. “Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window”

11:15 a.m. “Reptile Roundup”

12:15 p.m. “Wildlife Hospital Talk”

1:15 p.m. “Ocean Discoveries”

2 p.m. “Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window”

On the Water

Electric boat tours are also available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests can enjoy a relaxing 45-minute ride on the mangrove lined Gordon River led by a Conservancy boat captain. Rides are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Boat Tours are included in price of admission to the Conservancy Nature Center, must be 2 years old to board electric boats.

In addition, kayak rentals for up to two hours, are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Take a guided tour of the Gordon River or head out on your own and discover the hidden treasures of this brackish water habitat, which provides a perfect sanctuary for many native Florida species and explore the natural beauty of Southwest Florida. Kayak rentals and guided tours, reservations required.

Visitors can go on a 2-hPhoto 2our kayak adventure with a Conservancy-trained guide where they will learn about the importance of the mangrove forest while spotting Florida wildlife. Tours will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. for $40 for members and $50 for non-members, reservations required.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida will also offer a guided Boat and Lunch tours of the Gordon River on Fridays in May through September. Tours will depart at noon aboard one of its famous electric boats and stop for lunch at Wahoo’s River Bar and Grill. After your meal, guests will cruise back to the Conservancy’s Nature Center where they can explore the Dalton Discovery Center, the Little Explorer Play Zone and wildlife hospital exhibits, reservations required.

Little Explorers

The Little Explorers Pre-K programs will be offered Thursdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.  Little Explorer Play Zone provides the youngest visitors, the opportunity to explore nature and discover amazing animals through multi-sensory, interactive activities, stories, and crafts. No registration required. Admission is free for members and included in admission for non-members. Little Explorer Play Zone is most enjoyed by children 5 and younger. Summer programs include:

May 12; 14: A Color of His OwnPhoto 1

May 26; 28: Salty the Sea Turtle

June 9; 11: Over in the Forest

June 23; 25: House for Hermit Crabs

July 14; 16: Small Green Snake

July 28; 30: Where Should Turtle Be?

Aug. 11; 13: The Little Lazy Lizard

Aug. 25: Commotion in the Ocean

Adult Speakers Series

Free to Conservancy members, “Evenings at the Conservancy,” the monthly environmental education lecture series will continue on select Tuesday evenings. The series features a wide variety of presenters, eco-programs, panel members from the Conservancy, and local and regional environmental experts. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30 p.m. Programs frequently sell out, please pre-register by emailing Sophia Navarra at sophian@conservancy.org or by calling 239-403-4207. Lecture topics include:

May 10: “Legislative Wrap Up” with Jennifer Hecker, Conservancy Director of Natural Resource Policy

June 14: “Invasive Reptiles in SWFL” featuring Ian Bartoszek, Conservancy biologist

July 12: “FWC Florida Manatee Research” with Denise Boyd, FWC Conservation Research Associate

Self-Guided Nature Center Tours

In addition to summer programs, the Conservancy Nature Center offers self-guided exploring. Visitors can explore the interactive Dalton Discovery Center, which features the wondrous ecosystems of Southwest Florida. They can discover live animals, get hands-on in the touch tank, and see Luna, the loggerhead sea turtle, in the 5,000-gallon aquarium.

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital treats more than 3,200 injured, sick and orphaned native animals each year. Discover threats facing our animals and injury prevention tips. Guided tours of the Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window are offered every day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Guests can walk through the hospital exhibits and check out a behind-the-scenes film, patient X-rays, animal artifacts, and the Jr. Vet Lab.Photo 4

The Junior Vet Lab is an interactive play space where children can learn how veterinarians care for animals, and the children can role-play with native animals (of the “stuffed” species). The Junior Vet Lab is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Nature Center’s Sapakie Family Classroom.

Special Celebration Days

May 7 will be Nature Cat Day, guests are encouraged to leave their inner house cat behind and explore the natural world, encounter animals, and enjoy interactive children’s activities based on the newest PBS Kids TV show “Nature Cat.”

On Friday May 19 and Saturday May 20 the Conservancy will celebrate Endangered Species Day to raise awareness about our must vulnerable species. There will be special activities throughout the day and special admission deals for Conservancy and Zoo members. Zoo members receive free admission to the Conservancy and Conservancy members get in free to the Zoo.

Summer at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will include special celebration days with family-friendly activities to celebrate our water, land and wildlife.

World Turtle Day – May 23: Celebration activities May 23-29

World Oceans Day – June 6: Celebration activities June 6-11

World Snake Day – July 16: Celebration activities July 11-16

World Lizard Day – Aug. 15: Celebration activities Aug. 15-20

 Free Admission Days

Mother’s Day, May 5-7: Free admission for Mom when accompanied by a paying guest.

Memorial Day, May 26-28 and May 30: Free admission for current and retired military with valid ID.

Father’s Day, June 16-18: Free admission for Dad when accompanied by a paying guest.

Independence Day, June 30-July 2: Free admission for current and retired military with valid ID.

Labor Day, Sept. 1-3: Free admission for First Responders with valid ID.

All Conservancy Nature Center programs and events are online at www.Conservancy.org/Nature-Center. Membership is available online at www.Conservancy.org/Join. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and to make reservations, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.Conservancy.org. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is located at 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Lee County to host 2016 Open Water Festival April 8-10 at Miromar Lakes

2015 Open Water Festival-5 Lee County will once again host the world’s top open water swimmers during the 2016 Open Water Festival at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, to be held Friday, April 8, through Sunday, April 10. During the weekend event, open water swimmers will compete in the USA Swimming’s 2016 Open Water National Championships, vying for spots on the USA Swimming Open Water National Team, National Junior Team and Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) Open Water World Junior Championships Team.

The 2016 Open Water Festival will include events on all three days, utilizing Miromar Lakes’ 700-acre freshwater lake. The USA Swimming 2016 10K Open Water National Championships will be held Friday. Saturday’s events include youth 2.5K and 5K races, the Florida Swimming Open Water Championships, Local Swim Club All-Star Challenge, the Open Water Clinic, the Buddy Swim and the Crippen Mile. Sunday will feature the USA Swimming 2016 5K Open Water National Championships.

Last year’s tournament ge2015 Open Water Festival-4nerated about $200,000 in direct economic impact for Lee County, including roughly 800 hotel room nights and $4,500 in resort tax collections, according to Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development.

The 2016 Open Water Festival at Miromar Lakes will bring competitive swimmers from around the world to Lee County. Countries to be represented include Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, New Zealand, Tunisia, Germany and the United States. The international swimmers will compete in the 5K and 10K races, as well as the Crippen Mile.

“The 2016 Open Water Festival provides a great opportunity for athletes to showcase their talents as they compete against the world’s top open water swimmers,” said Dana Kasler, Director of Lee County Parks & Recreation. “Our department is excited to once again be a part of hosting this event and coo
rdinating all of the safety components for the festival. The county parks aquatics staff have worked closely with USA Swimming officials to establish the open water safety protocols and guidelines used nationally for many years.”  2015 Open Water Festival-1

Mielke said the return of the event to Lee County is a great way for locals and visitors to see impressive swimmers from around the world compete. “Competitions like the Open Water Festival raises national attention for Southwest Florida, providing our community the opportunity to become established as a popular destination for top-notch sporting events and competitions, and Miromar Lakes has been a great partner over the years to put our community on the map,” he said.

Miromar Lakes was first identified by USA Swimming in 2007 to host the Championship Trials due to its ideal climate and lake conditions that parallel the open water competition settings in Seville and Beijing. USA Swimming officials have called Miromar Lakes “The Best” location and amenities they have seen in their travels to races ar2015 Open Water Festival-3ound the world. Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club has received more than 150 local, regional, national and international awards including the Gold Award for #1 Community in the United States from the National Association of Home Builders and #1 Clubhouse in the United States.  Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club is the only community in the state of Florida to have won this prestigious award in the history of the NAHB National Awards program.

The 2016 Open Water Festival is open for spectators. For more information on the 2016 Open Water Festival, visit www.OpenWaterFestival.org. For more information on USA Swimming, visit www.USASwimming.org.

About Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club2015 Open Water Festival-2

Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club offers a 700-acre freshwater lake, three miles of private white sand beach, European-style spa with full-service salon, fitness center with personal training studio and aerobics room, 10,000 square foot zero-edge pool, two marinas, seven Har-Tru tennis courts, three restaurants and a dynamic social scene, all within one luxurious location.  Other amenities include concierge services and marine services. For the avid golfer, the Miromar Lakes Golf Club has the only Arthur Hills “Signature” Championship Golf Course in Southwest Florida, a 2015 Golfweek’s Best Residential Course of Distinction. Move-in ready and new construction homes are available for immediate purchase. New homes are available starting from $1 million to over $7 million. Visit Miromar Lakes, Florida, just north of Naples, at exit 123 off I-75. For more information, please contact the Sales Center at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club at 239-425-2340 or 877-809-9444, or online at: MiromarLakes.com.

About Lee County Sports Development

Lee County Sports Development was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, and is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementation of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships with Lee County Parks & Recreation and others, the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-5273 or visit www.leegov.com/sports.

Elmquist Eye Group Earns Esteemed 2015 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Elmquist Eye Group

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Elmquist Eye Group has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2015.

“It is an honor to receive such high recognition from Angie’s List, and our team is pleased to see that our services are so positively regarded by the members of our community,” said Dr. E. Trevor Elmquist, founder of Elmquist Eye Group. “At Elmquist Eye Group, our goal is to make a difference in the quality of eye care services available in Southwest Florida, and our dedicated doctors and staff are here to ensure that our patients receive the topmost level of eye care to meet all of their needs, from routine eye exams to intricate surgeries.”

“Only about 5 percent of the ophthalmology and optometry companies in the Southwest Florida market have performed so consistently well enough to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a really high standard.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2015 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

Angie’s List helps facilitate happy transactions between more than three million consumers nationwide and its collection of highly rated service providers in more than 720 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. Built on a foundation of more than 10 million verified reviews of local service, Angie’s List connects consumers directly to its online marketplace of services from member-reviewed providers, and offers unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.

Elmquist Eye Group was founded by Dr. E. Trevor Elmquist in Fort Myers in 1992 and provides comprehensive eye care to thousands of patients in Lee County. Using the latest technology, Elmquist and his highly skilled associates, including Dr. Kate Wagner; partner, and Dr. Nina Burt, provide a complete range of eye care services for children and adults including routine eye exams and diagnosis and treatment of cataracts; macular degeneration; diabetic eye disease; dry eyes; glaucoma; and other eye conditions. A full optical boutique is located within the Fort Myers and Cape Coral office with a wide range of eyeglass options. The Fort Myers office is located at 12670 New Brittany Blvd., Suite 102, and the Cape Coral office is located at the Shops at Surfside, 2336 Surfside Blvd., Suite 121. Patients are also seen at The Arbor Medical Clinic at Shell Point from 8-11 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, call 239-936-2020 or go to www.Elmquist.com.

Discovery Senior Living breaks ground on its new independent-living community at Discovery Village At The Forum

Discovery Village At The Forum

Discovery Senior Living began its expansion of Discovery Village At The Forum with a groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 21 for its new, state-of-the-art independent-living community.

“The Discovery Village At The Forum independent-living community will offer adults the opportunity to stay active and remain independent as they age, while enjoying the resort-style luxuries that are offered by Discovery Senior Living communities,” said Thomas J. Harrison, CEO and co-founder of Discovery Senior Living. “We pride ourselves in offering all-inclusive services for our residents, and we are excited to expand Discovery Village At The Forum by now offering luxury independent living.” Discovery Village At The Forum is located at 2625 Forum Blvd., near Interstate 75 and Colonial Blvd., just south of S.R. 82 in Fort Myers.

The expansion of Discovery Village At The Forum will include 176 independent-living apartment homes and 24 signature condos. Senior adults that are in need of higher levels of care have the opportunity to reside at its neighboring all-inclusive assisted living and memory care community.

Residents of the new apartment homes will enjoy the luxuries of the Grande Clubhouse, which will include a grand dining room and a private dining room; a grand ballroom; social areas; game and activity rooms; a bar and lounge; a state-of-the-art movie theater; a wellness center; a senior-equipped fitness center; an outdoor heated pool; a professional beauty salon and barber shop; a library and media center; and an outdoor entertainment area.

The 24 signature condos have an additional clubhouse that residents will delight in. It will feature a grand social room with spacious kitchen, which can be utilized for special occasions, including parties and family gatherings. In addition, the clubhouse includes its own outdoor pool and entertainment area.

Construction of Discovery Village At The Forum will create jobs for an estimated 150 workers during the construction of the 204,000-square-foot community. The almost $50 million community is expected to be complete by summer 2017. Discovery Village At The Forum will create approximately 80 new jobs for the community once development is complete.

Discovery Village At The Forum is the design creation of Architectural Concepts Inc. (ACI) of Largo, under the leadership of founding partner Bo Russ. ACI provides architectural services to clients throughout the U.S., Bermuda and New Zealand, specializing in senior-building design.

Wegman Design Group’s design principal, Lori Wegman, provided the creative and strategic interior design solutions. Wegman’s professionals have been providing innovative design since its startup in 2001.

The Henning Group is the general building construction management firm in charge of construction. The Iowa-based firm is one of the largest general construction companies in North America and does business internationally.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is the construction financing partner.

About Discovery Senior Living

Discovery Senior Living, a family of companies founded by Thomas J. Harrison and Richard J. Hutchinson, includes: Discovery Management Group, Discovery Development Group, Discovery Realty Group, and Discovery At Home, a Medicare-certified home healthcare company. For more than 25 years, the award-winning management group has been developing, building, marketing and operating upscale, luxury senior-living communities across the United States. With a flourishing portfolio of more than 5,200 homes for seniors with an additional 500 under construction, caring for almost 5,500 residents, Discovery Senior Living has become a recognized industry leader in creating world-class resort-style communities. The corporate office is located at 3301 Bonita Beach Rd., Suite 113, Bonita Springs, Florida 34134. For more information, visit www.DiscoverySeniorLiving.com.

SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. introduces Million Reasons to Give campaign to fund much-needed surgical equipment for new Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida

Children are not little adults, and pediatric health care requires special tools, equipment and technology that is made just for young patients. To help provide the special surgical instruments and communication and monitoring technology that a state-of-the-art children’s hospital needs to effectively serve its patients, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. presents “A Million Reasons to Give,” calling on auction bidders at the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest and the entire community to help fund approximately $1 million in tools, equipment and technology to ensure quality care for young patients at the new Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

Serving the needs of patients at various ages and stages of development, from newborn infants and toddlers to school children and teens, pediatric surgeons require a large array of specialized surgical tools to safely and effectively perform lifesaving procedures.

“The instruments we need are physical things, but what you’re really providing is something intangible and so much more valuable,” said Dr. Amy Stanfill, pediatric surgeon at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “It’s lifesaving surgery on newborns that weigh less than five pounds. It’s surgery for a teenager that might literally change the course of his life. I can’t explain how needed this is, and I am overwhelmed by the generosity of this program.”

For the first time, the “Fund a Cause” initiative of the SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. is featured online, allowing anyone to view the list of equipment needs and to donate directly to the purchase of lifesaving equipment and technology at www.swflwinefest.org.

“They aren’t the same size, and they don’t communicate the same way, but children deserve lifesaving care that is equally safe and effective,” said Dorothy Fitzgerald, vice-president and a trustee of the SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. “And with the new Golisano Children’s Hospital preparing to open next year, it’s an opportune time to raise the funds and stock the new hospital with the most advanced surgical tools and technologies available for pediatric care. It’s a great way for not only the auction bidders to show their support, but everyone in the community can contribute.”

In addition to the need for new surgical tools, building a new children’s hospital has presented many opportunities to enhance the environment to better care for pediatric patients through advanced technologies. One example is the new smartphone technology communication devices that will be incorporated in the NICU. This new technology will enhance the way infants are monitored real time in their rooms. The interactive system is just one example of the many lifesaving medical devices donors can purchase for the new Golisano Children’s Hospital through “A Million Reasons to Give.”

“We have learned from some of the leading children’s hospitals across the country that new technology is critical to providing the highest quality care to our patients and families,” said Kathy Bridge-Liles, chief administrative officer, Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Just as many professionals rely on technology to achieve their goals, we will rely upon technology to protect the little ones in our care.”

Adding smartphone technology to the NICU at the new Golisano Children’s Hospital will cost approximately $350,000, a large portion of the $1 million “A Million Reasons to Give” fund. In addition to the state-of-the-art equipment needed, the innovation will be incorporated into the new hospital’s information technology system and hospital staff will be expertly trained.

“The new single-room NICUs require changes in the way nurses are alerted to patient needs,” added Bridge-Liles. “Other NICU technology experts, including those at Golisano Children’s Hospital at University of Rochester Medical Center, use this technology. We know that this technology is critical to providing the highest quality of care to our patients and families.”

The 2016 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest events include the Chef Vintner Dinners on Friday, Feb. 26 and The Grand Tasting & Live Auction on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

The SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.’s annual signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, has raised and donated $12.8 million over the past seven years, making it the most successful fundraising event in Lee County and one of the top-grossing charitable wine fests in the country. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is the primary beneficiary of the event, and the money raised helps to fund the building of the new family-centered children’s hospital that will provide new and expanded medical services and subspecialty services to children from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. In addition to providing funds for the new state-of-the-art Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, the SWFL Children’s Charities supports healthcare programs and student scholarships at Florida SouthWestern State College and Florida Gulf Coast University. For more information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.

Photo 1: Infant warming beds are required in order to keep babies warm throughout surgical procedures.

Photo 2: Infant and Toddler Laparotomy Trays include tools that allow physicians to examine the abdominal organs of a baby or toddler.

Photo 3: The Philips Ambient MRI Environment allows patients to choose from several themes and watch as the room transforms into a relaxing ambience through calming sounds and soothing images.

Photo 4: Phoropters are used during an eye exam, as well as to identify problems such as astigmatism.

Photo 5: An OCT is a medical imaging technique that uses light to capture three dimensional images of structures within the eye, such as the optic nerve and retina.

Pavese Law Firm partner Katherine English appointed to American Farm Bureau Federation’s Issue Advisory Committee on Water and Water Quality

Pavese Law Firm partner Katherine English has been appointed to serve a two-year term as chair on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Issue Advisory Committee on Water and Water Quality. The American Farm Bureau Federation, or AFBF, works to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities through legislative action.

As the chair Katherine Englishof the Issue Advisory Committee on Water and Water Quality, English will work with staff and members and her fellow committee members to make recommendations on issues of the Clean Water Act, national and regional water storage programs, Army Corps of Engineers’ water-related efforts, flood control, and she will provide issue recommendations to the AFBF board of directors as needed.

English joined Pavese Law Firm in 1994 and became a partner in 2000. She has extensive agricultural experience. Before entering law school, she worked as a field representative for a citrus grower’s cooperative, and she continues to be involved in her family’s farming operations. English is experienced in surface water management, water use and private property rights, including federal environmental permitting and compliance in regard to the Clean Water Act, the Food Security Act and the Endangered Species Act. During her legal career, she has practiced before a variety of government agencies including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Florida Water Management District, South Florida Water Management District, Army Corps of Engineers, United States Department of Agriculture, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. English is a member of the American Bar Association and the Lee County Bar Association.

In addition, English serves on: The Florida Farm Bureau Association’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee; past president and member of the board of the directors for the University of Florida Leadership and Education Foundation Inc.; a member of the board of directors for Redlands Christian Migrant Association; chair of the membership committee for SHARE Council for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences; and a member of the board of directors for United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties.

Pavese Law Firm is a full-service law firm with offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and West Palm Beach. The firm provides a broad range of legal services for individuals, families, small businesses and large corporations. Practice areas include agricultural, banking and finance, bankruptcy, business and taxation, civil litigation, community association, employment, environmental and water, estate planning, probate and trust, family, land use and government, and real estate law. Established in 1949 as a one-person general practice firm, Pavese Law Firm has grown into one of the largest legal practices in Southwest Florida. With a long history of service to Southwest Florida, Pavese Law Firm has played a significant role in the growth of local businesses, communities and major development projects. For more information, visit www.paveselaw.com.

Second annual NubAbility #DontNeed2 Florida Camp for kids with limb-loss in partnership with the Minnesota Twins

NubAbility Athletics The NubAbility Athletic Foundation will host the second annual #DontNeed2 Florida Camp in partnership with the Minnesota Twins Jan. 1 through Jan. 2 for children ages 4 to 16 with congenital or traumatic limb-loss involving one or more limbs. NubAbility will hold a STRONG Camp, Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Daily Grind CrossFit Gym in Fort Myers, focusing on adaptive strengthening, conditioning, speed, agility, sport specific workouts, yoga for athletes and P.E. skills, and hosted by Fit Nation Magazine, Daily Grind CrossFit and Ruby and Pearls Yoga. A camp focusing on baseball, softball and soccer will be held Jan. 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, hosted by the Minnesota Twins. The #DontNeed2 Florida Camp is for children who are very mobile and desire to compete in mainstreamed school or league baseball, softball, soccer, track and field. Camp fees are $50 for each day and registration is open online at NubAbility.org.

The #DontNeed2 Florida Camp is led by founder and head coach, Sam Kuhnert, a former one-handed college baseball pitcher and college pitching coach, and his coaching team of accomplished athletes, with limb-loss, who have played at top levels of sport. NubAbility has held various sport camps for adaptive youth athletes for five years. This is its second annual camp in Fort Myers with the Minnesota Twins organization. Hayden Filson-Thompson of Texas, who played college softball, and Ryan Hamner of Orlando, an amputee who played for Rhode Island, will lead the baseball and softball camp. Minnesota Twins head pitching coach coordinator, and former MLB player, Eric Rasmussen, will lend his coaching talent to the event for the second year in a row. One-handed glove transfers, batting grips, stances, fielding, pitching, throwing, catching and base running will be covered for all limb-differences. The more experienced players will benefit from one on one instruction from college and professional coaches.

“I get to work along side my mentor, Eric Rasmussen doing what I love, getting these kids in the game of my passion. That has me pumped!” Kuhnert said.

NubAbility soccer coach Breana McMahon, an amputee, former college player and college and high school coach, who is from Orlando, joined by Lizzie Ridder, former college player, and Mathew “Flowhawk” Hawkins, will lead the soccer camp at a field adjacent to Hammond Stadium. The focus of this camp will be on dribbling, passing and scoring on prosthetic legs and with those of upper limb-loss. How to achieve and maintain balance and agility, defend and goal tending will also be taught at the youth’s level of play.

“If you have NubAbility Soccerbeen coached properly and you work harder than the rest, you will succeed. I am proof.” McMahon said.

Former Paralympic volleyball player and coach, and now adaptive strength expert and trainer, Dave Newkirk of Kansas, will be conducting the STRONG Camp. He will be assisted by Paralympic gold medal hopeful, William Regas Woods and track star Nick Rogers, who will conduct the speed portion of the camp. Adaptive yoga instructor, Heather Holland, of Ruby and Pearl’s Yoga in Fort Myers will lead the group in adaptive yoga for athletes. Heather is the aunt of NubAbility founder, Sam Kuhnert, and has worked with him through the years in his personal training for collegiate baseball. Physical education classes are often more challenging for P.E. teachers than the actual limb-different student. In NubAbility’s P.E. Skills session, NubAbility will instruct the athletes not only how they can achieve success in standard P.E. class skills, such as jumping rope one handed or on prosthetics, but also how to communicate their adaptive abilities to their teachers.

“I have traveled the world competing and coaching mainstreamed and adaptive sport. I know what the opportunity to compete has meant to me and the life lessons I have learned from it. I intend to provide professional instruction in a safe environment for kids who have also experienced life as a limb-different athlete.” Newkirk said.

The #DontNeed2 Florida Camp is designed for growth over the years and to establish a service for kids with limb-loss that desire to compete in mainstreamed sport in the southeast region of the U.S. However, several families are flying in from across the U.S. for this life-changing event that not only prepares the youth athletes for mainstreamed competition, but also encourages courage and confidence in sport and in life. If you know of a child who has a limb-difference, ages 4-17, have them email NubAbility@gmail.com for more information. No child is ever turned away due to financial hardship. Camp fees are $50. However, local sponsors have provided 10 scholarship opportunities. Simply use the coupon code TWINS in the payment portion of the online registration, available on NubAbility.org and in the cover photo of NubAbility’s Facebook page.

About NubAbility

A 501(c)3 nonprofit, NubAbility Athletics holds a large four-day camp in Southern Illinois every July that serves over 135 limb-different youth from across the nation. NubAbility Athletics has over 45 volunteer limb-different athletes as coaches and mentors that coach over 18 different school sanctioned sports. NubAbility also holds one-sport, one-day mini camps across the nation. NubAbility will feature its first multiple day outdoorsman camp outside of Atlanta Georgia in late July with Hunter Cayll, aka Nubs the No Handed Shooter as the Head Coach. Shooting, archery and fishing are all team sports in many schools across the country and NubAbility believes all kids have a right to compete for team spots regardless of the number of limbs they have. The next event scheduled is a #DontNeed2 Bully Proof Camp on Jan. 17 in Madisonville, Kentucky. For more information visit NubAbility Athletics Foundation at http://www.NubAbility.org, www.facebook.com/NubAbility, @NubAbility on Twitter and Instagram and NubAbility Athletics on YouTube.

Lee County to host 2015 Culligan City of Palms Classic basketball tournament Dec. 18 – 23

Lee County will once aCulligan City of Palms Classic-1gain host the 43rd annual Culligan City of Palms Classic high school basketball tournament Friday, Dec. 18 through Wednesday, Dec. 23 at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. The six-day tournament will bring 26 teams from across the U.S. and Canada for a 35-game tournament.

The 2014 Culligan City of Palms Classic brought in a total of 3,780 hotel room nights, $1.1 million in direct visitor spending and $1.8 million in total economic impact in Lee County. The quality of teams and players in last year’s tournament garnered national sports attention for Lee County from well-known media outlets, incl
uding USA Today and ESPN. The popularity of the tournament has exposed Lee County to a large number of promCulligan City of Palms Classic-2inent NCAA Division I basketball coaches and programs, increasing opportunity for Lee County student-athletes to be seen.

“Tournaments like the Culligan City of Palms Classic raises the profile of our community, putting Southwest Florida on the map as an established destination for quality sportscompetitions,” said Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development. “Not only are tournaments like this advantageous economically for Southwest Florida, but it also raises the quality of life for our local community by giving families the opportunity to take their children to see the very highest level of high school basketball in the country.”

A total of 51 Culligan City of Palms Classic veteran players are presently in the NBA, filling 11.3 percent of the current NBA roster. In total, 117 players have advanced to become current NCAA Power Seven Conference stars, with 67 athletes in last year’s NCAA tournament and 23 players in the Sweet 16. Seven athletes recently played in the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game and nine players performed in the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic.

Those interested in attending the event are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, as reserved seating for the tournament is sold out, and general admission tickets are available oCulligan City of Palms Classic-3 n a first come, first serve basis. Daily general admission tickets are available for $15, general admission tickets for all six tournament days are available for $85 and a six-day reserved parking pass can be purchased for $40. The ticket office at Bishop Verot High School will open one hour before the first game, each day of the tournament. For more information about the Culligan City of Palms Classic, or for the full game schedule, visit www.cityofpalmsclassic.com.

Lee County Sports Development was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, and is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementation of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships with Lee County Parks & Recreation and others, the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-2221 or visit www.leeparks.org.

Retina Health Center invites public to free symposium Jan. 23 on macular degeneration

RHC Logo

Retina Health Center and the Foundation Fighting Blindness will host the 13th annual Southwest Florida Macular Degeneration Symposium on Saturday,  Jan. 23. The symposium will feature world-renowned experts providing the latest information on treatment options and new discoveries. Attendees will learn about groundbreaking new treatment options for both dry and wet macular degeneration.

This free, three-hour presentation will be given twice on Jan. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, 5001 Coconut Rd. in Bonita Springs. To reserve a seat, attendees must register in advance by calling 800-586-6765.

Dr. Charles Johnson, Chief Medical Officer of Neurotech, will be this year’s guest speaker. Dr. Johnson is an accomplished physician and pharmaceutical executive with more than four decades of experience in clinical practice and the biotech sector. Dr. Johnson was most recently the Vice President of Global Medical Affairs at Vertex. Prior to this, he held leadership positions at Inspire Pharmaceuticals and APT Pharmaceuticals. Notably, during his 13 year tenure at Genentech, he was the Vice President and Head of the Immunology and Tissue Repair clinical group and had responsibility for the approvals of LUCENTIS® for wet age-related macular degeneration and RITUXAN® for rheumatoid arthritis. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Johnson spent 18 years practicing medicine. Dr. Johnson received his medical degree from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, attained Board Certification in Pediatrics at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and completed his Pediatric Pulmonology Fellowship at Washington University. He has presented clinical data at numerous medical conferences and published in several respected scientific journals.

In addition, Drs. Alexander Eaton and Hussein Wafapoor of Retina Health Center will provide an overview of macular degeneration and discuss ongoing Retina Health Center studies that are helping patients at the local, national and international level.

Retina Health Center was established in 2002 by Dr. Alexander M. Eaton, a long-time Southwest Florida resident, who has been practicing ophthalmology in Lee and Collier counties since 1993. Dr. Eaton and Dr. Hussein Wafapoor of Retina Health Center are principal investigators for the Macular Degeneration Research Center, founded by Dr. Eaton, which has conducted numerous studies to prevent and treat macular degeneration. For more information on the latest studies or to make an appointment, call 239-337-3337 in Fort Myers or 239-793-5200 in Naples or visit www.RetinaHealthCenter.com.

Gulf Coast Village hires Jill Waruszewski as administrator for home care services

Jill Waruszewski

Gulf Coast Village has welcomed Jill Waruszewski as the new administrator for home care services for the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Cape Coral. With 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Waruszewski will now oversee all areas related to private duty Home Care by Gulf Coast Village. These services include personalized in-home services, and the ER Companion and Safe Return programs that provide support to seniors while in the emergency room and offer assistance and other caregiving services upon returning from the hospital.

Waruszewski earned her master’s degree in Social Work from Florida Gulf Coast University. She began her career serving as a hands on caregiver for children with intellectual disabilities, and has since worked in a variety of healthcare-related fields, including social work in a skilled nursing home and private practice at a neuropsychiatric office, and has also worked as a home health administrator and in other management positions including director of business and development for an in-home senior care provider.

“We are excited to welcome Waruszewski to the Gulf Coast Village family,” said Kevin Ahmadi, executive director of Gulf Coast Village. “Her wide range of experience in the healthcare industry will prove to be an asset for our organization, and we know that the valued members of the Home Care by Gulf Coast Village program will benefit greatly from her presence and service.”

Founded more than 25 years ago, Gulf Coast Village is the premier Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Cape Coral, Florida. Residents enjoy active independent living in an unparalleled lifestyle of comfort and convenience with a rich array of services and amenities that are focused on living well. The community also offers the security of knowing there is the full continuum of care when needed including:  assisted living, skilled nursing, specialized memory support, home health and outpatient services. Gulf Coast Village is located at 1333 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33991. For more information call 239-772-1333 or visit www.GulfCoastVillage.com.

Gulf Coast Village is sponsored by Volunteers of America, a national non-profit faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Volunteers of America was founded in 1896 and is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of quality, affordable housing for seniors and a provider of professional long-term care including assisted living, home health care and nursing home care.