The MarineMax Fort Myers Annual Yacht Gala has raised over one million dollars to benefit the Golisano Children's Hospital in the last six years. The 6th Annual event, held on March 11, 2022, at MarineMax Fort Myers, raised over $300,000 through generous donations and a live and silent auction.
"Thank you to everyone involved in making this benefit a reality. We should all take great pride in the community's efforts and our MarineMax Family and friends to raise funds necessary to make the hospital and the care it provides for our children a reality," MarineMax Fort Myers General Manager Ryan West commented. "To say I am simply proud of what we have accomplished somehow seems woefully inadequate, but I'll say it anyway. I'm extremely proud of what we have accomplished together. Congratulations!"
When MarineMax partnered with Lee Health to host the inaugural Yacht Gala back in 2015, the construction of the Children's Hospital was not yet complete, and the community fundraising requirement of $100 million to do so was far from being met. Those who needed specialty care had to travel to St. Pete or Miami to receive it. This distance may sound small, but distance is a problem when seeking life-changing and potentially life-saving care for their children. Tom Golisano and countless other members of the Fort Myers community contributed and raised over $120 million to allow families that need special care to obtain it right here, at home.
West continued, "We are overflowing with gratitude for the amazing donors and sponsors who gave from their hearts this year, including some of our wonderful manufacturing partners, Boston Whaler, Aquila, and Galeon. A special thanks to our partners at Lee Health and Trudi Kemmis, who have taken a discussion during a weekly meeting about the desire to give back and to drive it uphill at times to the place it is now. Speaking from personal experience, the lives of the families who have, and will, benefit from our past and future efforts are forever better because of your hard work."
Although progress has been made to expand access to specialized treatment, programs, and services, the need surpasses available resources. MarineMax’s From the Helm Boating Broadcast hosted a special edition to hear more from Ryan West and special guests from Lee Health, Armando Llechu, Chief Officer of Hospital Operations, and Chris Simoneau, Chief Foundation and Development Officer. If you would like to donate to the cause, visit the Lee Health Foundation website and be sure to save the date for the next annual event, coming in Spring 2023!