With attendance pushing 500 at $500 per ticket, a gathering grateful for all the Naples Community Hospital provides descended on the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort on Oct. 27.
Attired mainly in black tie and evening gowns and fueled with hors d'oeuvres while they circulated and enjoyed tunes provided by a Seaside Strings ensemble, they were quick to enter bids on nearly 100 silent auction items via BidPal, an electronic system specially funded by CenturyLink for the evening.
The 2012 gala titled "Saving Our Tiniest Treasures" was staged to benefit the expansion and renovation the NCH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the North Naples Campus. Stacey Herring, a banker and five-year volunteer NCH supporter, both chaired the event and created the elegant, understated ballroom décor in collaboration with hotel staff. Centerpieces were soaring vases of white roses and hydrangeas displayed under dramatic crystal chandeliers along with tabletop reminders of the wee honorees — 2.2-pound plastic bags of birdseed, the average weight of most premature babies.
The Naples-based Stacey Allison Band provided background and dance music throughout dinner, which consisted of three courses finished with a warm chocolate cake with a Bailey's Irish Cream center and salted caramel-chocolate leaf ice cream.
Following welcomes by NCH leaders and an invocation by NCH Chaplain Michael Harper, emcee NBC-2 Anchor Peter Busch continued the event program with the presentation of Physician of the Year nominees and announcement of winner Wallace W. McLean Jr., affiliated with NCH for 37 years. Winning Nurses of Excellence were Marie Mejia from NCH Downtown and Jean Snyder, NCH North Naples. Honorary Chairwoman and longtime community leader and philanthropist Lavern Norris Gaynor was also introduced as was the David and Mindy Slenn family, the earliest beneficiaries of NCH GE Giraffe Omnibeds premature infant care, along with premature twin daughters Simone and Briell, now 3 years old.
A guest auctioneer, NCH Chief Development Officer Jim Martin, brought in a total of $48,000 on six live-auction items, while Fund-A-Need bids totalled $400,000 to purchase ten incubator and radiant heaters-in-one GE Giraffe Omnibeds.
NCH Healthcare Foundation reported net proceeds $750,000, including sponsorships and underwriting. David and Cecile Wang were presenting sponsors.