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Manateeum Fundraiser Gala to Raise Funds for New Environmental Education Center at Sirenia Vista Park

Mar 13, 2018 04:57PM ● By Kevin
A Manateeum Fundraiser Gala is scheduled for March 23 at the Cape Coral Yacht Club to help raise funds for an environmental education center to be called The Manateeum Environmental Education Center, which will be located at Sirenia Vista Park. It will provide marine and wildlife education along with research.

The Manatee Cape Connection Committee of the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife is a nonprofit organization dedicated to help protect and promote the Florida manatee for all future generations through advocacy, education and volunteerism. This is the first fundraiser the organization is holding for the cause.

Cape Coral's Sirenia Vista Park has become a valuable Southwest Florida eco-tourism destination, committee chairperson Maija Gadient said. "It showcases an important mangrove and estuary setting that is crucial to maintaining marine and native wildlife." Gadient is the guest of honor at the event.

"Building of the Manateeum has been in the 'thinking about/planning stage' for two or three years by a small group of volunteers that have been taking care of Sirenia Vista Park," said event planner Diane Meade. "They are known as the Manatee Cape Connection. I met Maija in February 2017 for the first time and she introduced me to all of the individuals that have been working with her at Sirenia Vista Park."

Meade is involved with a group of volunteers working diligently in various focus areas to make this event a success. Her years in program management with a large Department of Defense corporation prior to her retirement makes the management piece natural for her.

"It is fun and for a great cause," Meade said. The scope of work to create the center/museum is about $2 million, and is expected to be a four-to-five-year effort.

"When sufficient funds are raised, the Manateeum will help to promote sustainable growth and wildlife protection through education offering informative displays plus environmental programs and classes, with the potential for marine research facilities," Meade said.

The organization is still soliciting donations for the silent auction, which will take place at the event. Even those who can't attend can still donate.

"It would be greatly appreciated for those that are interested in helping to spread the word to all of their friends, neighbors and associates," Mead said. "We would like to fill the event venue to a capacity of 300 people. Our Corporate and VIP Tables are front and center! We would really like to sell several more of them."

Attendees will be granted complimentary valet parking and "The Blue Manatee," the event's signature drink. There will be two cash bars on site in addition to Mediterranean Hors D’oeuvres served during the cocktail hour. The event emcee is Lisa Spooner of NBC2 News. Speakers include Mr. Cape Coral, Elmer Tabor and Dr. Robert Bonde, a marine research biologist and manatee expert. There will be synchronized swimming as entertainment. Artist Lorne Hosack will be painting during the event and will auction the painting.

Fine dining is catered by Chef Ron Casterline of Bernwood Catering in Bonita Springs. Dessert includes a Commemorative Cake.

All donations should be made to Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife / MCC, PO Box 152761, Cape Coral FL 33915. For additional information about the Black-Tie Event, contact Meade at 703-408-7376, or visit