Friday, October 15, 2021

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Vivy Pantoja and Jill Walker (Top to Bottom) chosen for Special Olympics Florida team for 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

Vivy Pantoja and Jill Walker (Top to Bottom) chosen for Special Olympics Florida team for 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

2018 Special Olympics USA Games

Special Olympics Florida – Collier County is pleased to announce that local athletes Viviana Pantoja and Jill Walker will compete as part of Team Florida at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington on July 1-6, 2018.

“We’re thrilled to have two of our athletes selected to compete in Special Olympics USA games in Seattle,” said Special Olympics Florida – Collier County Director David McKenzie. “Both Vivy and Jill have trained very hard and are most deserving of this honor. They’ll be excellent ambassadors for Florida, as well as for Collier County, at the USA Games in 2018.”

Pantoja, 35, who will compete in standup paddle, has been an athlete for Special Olympics Florida – Collier County for eight years and has competed at a variety of state level competitions for standup paddle, cycling and swimming.

Walker, 68, who will compete in bocce, has been an athlete for Special Olympics Florida – Collier County since 2014 and has competed at the state level for both bocce and golf. She is also a member of the Special Olympics Florida – Collier County swimming and bowling teams.

An estimated 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will compete at the 2018 USA Games. The athletes will have the support of 1,000 coaches, 10,000 family members, 10,000 volunteers, and as many as 50,000 spectators during the week of competitions. The USA Games is a premier national sports competition, showcasing the power and joy of sports at the highest levels.

Founded in 1972, Special Olympics Florida—Collier County offers free training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The organization welcomes competitors at all ability levels. Athletes are assigned to competition divisions based on age, gender, and actual performance. For information about how to become an athlete, coach, or volunteer, visit, email us at, or call 239-775-1991.

Immokalee Foundation Marks Year’s End

Students in The Immokalee Foundation programs recently celebrated accomplishments of the 2016-17 school year with an end-of-the-year celebration, including food, music, games and raffles at Immokalee High School.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit Suncoast Grant Awarded to ThinkTheatre

Gulfshore Playhouse was recently awarded a $12,500 grant from the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation to support the professional theatre’s 2017-18 education programs.

The grant will directly support Gulfshore Playhouse Education’s ThinkTheatre, an in-school residency program, as well as expand theatrical programming experiences for students in Collier County.

“With the support of Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, Gulfshore Playhouse Education is able to subsidize the cost of these programs in order to make them accessible to all schools in the region,” said Hester Kamin, director of education for Gulfshore Playhouse. “We are honored by the organization’s continued support and partnership, which allows us to serve students in Southwest Florida through arts programs that bring language and history to life.”

ThinkTheatre pairs core curriculum with theatre-based learning to



enhance student’s educational experiences through four residencies focused on Shakespeare, mythology, movement, and poetry. Additionally, the program has expanded its educational focus for the 2017- 18 school year to include a partnership with the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida. The organizations have joined to produce “In Flight: The Story of Sabine Van Dam,” a 45-minute classroom experience featuring a performance, an interactive activity, and discussion. Written by Gulfshore Playhouse’s Kamin, In Flight focuses on the true story of local Holocaust survivor, Sabine Van Dam, and highlights themes of courage and the importance of the choices people make.

For more information about Gulfshore Playhouse Education and ThinkTheatre programs, contact 239-261-7529, ext. 7 or email

For more information about Gulfshore Playhouse or its new facility, visit or call 239-261- PLAY (7529).

Great American Solar Eclipse

Come join the Headquarters Library, 2385 Orange Blossom Drive, Naples, Florida 34109, from 2 to 3 PM on Wednesday, Aug. 2, for a discussion about the Great American Eclipse. Learn the art of enjoying eclipses safely and were to go to observe them. Denise Sabatini, president of the Everglades Astronomical Society, has been pursuing astronomy for 35 years. She will discuss the mechanics of the 2017 eclipse, including the cycles of eclipses and how the Mayans could predict them.

On Monday, Aug. 21, Collier County Public Library is partnering with the Space Science Institute for the first eclipse of the sun in almost 40 years. While Naples is not in the path of totality, we will be able to see a partial eclipse of up to about 82 percent coverage of the sun. Here in Southwest Florida, the eclipse will start around 1:30 PM, reach its maximum coverage at about 3 PM and then decline and end around 4:20 PM. Courtesy of the Space Science Institute, we will have a limited supply of Solar Eclipse glasses available for patrons who join us on Aug. 21. We have plenty of science reading material and the Children’s Room at the Headquarters Library will offer some crafts during the eclipse. Registration is not required.

For more information, call 239-593- 0334 or visit us online at

Arbor Day Foundation

Forests across America are a prized natural resource, and anyone can help plant trees in these vital areas by joining the Arbor Day Foundation this month.

Through the Replanting Our National Forests campaign, the Arbor Day Foundation will honor each new member who joins in July by planting 10 trees in forests that have been devastated by wildfires, insects, and disease.

The cost for joining the Arbor Day Foundation is a $10 donation.

America’s national forests face enormous challenges, including unprecedented wildfires that have left a backlog of more than 1 million acres in need of replanting. The Foundation has worked with the United States Forest Service for more than 25 years to plant trees in high need forests.

Our national forests provide habitat for wildlife, keep the air clean, and help ensure safe drinking water for more than 180 million Americans.

“Keeping our forests healthy is vital to the health of people and the entire planet,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “By planting trees in our national forests, we will preserve precious natural resources and the benefits they provide for generations to come.”

To join the Arbor Day Foundation and help plant trees in

TIF students Ernesto Blanchard and Shirley Vilsaint were the musical chairs winners

TIF students Ernesto Blanchard and Shirley Vilsaint were the musical chairs winners

our national forests, send a $10 membership contribution to Replanting Our National Forests, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410 or visit

Football University Returns to Naples

All American Games’ Football University brings an expanded version of its FBU National Championship series back to Naples December 17-21 with 42 youth teams playing 61 games on local fields. Over 5,000 athletes, coaches and family members – double the number from last year – are expected to arrive December 17 and stay through the week, which will likely increase or double last year’s economic impact of $2.1 million.

This year’s event adds a ninth-grade all-star game along with invitational National Championship games for age nine and under and age 10-and-under teams.

“The FBU National Championship is a great fit for our destination and we’re honored to serve as host for the fourth year,” said Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We heard from the players and families that they thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality shown by our community last year and many said they would like to return for a future vacation. Players said they would compete even harder just to be able to return to Naples for this year’s FBU National Championship.”

The “Path to Naples” begins in mid- November with qualifying games in 16 regions of the United States featuring all-star football players in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. The winners of each regional competition are seeded into the FBU National Championship tournament here. The 2016 games were watched by over 100,000 unique viewers who tuned into national webcasts.

The 61 games will be played from December 18 through 21 at Fleischmann Park, Community School of Naples, and at Golden Gate, Barron Collier, Naples and Gulf Coast High Schools.

The three final championship games are scheduled to be played at Gulf Coast High School on December 21. The 6th grade national championship kicks off at 3 PM; the 7th grade national championship at 5:30 PM; and the 8th grade national championship at 8 PM. The public is encouraged to attend to watch some very exciting youth football. Games are scheduled to be available for viewing by live webcast.

The FBU National Championship gives players a chance to play on a national stage and it is increasingly drawing the attention of high school and college coaches.

After last year’s successful FBU National Championship, the Naples area received additional promotion through television advertising during the US Army All American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, January 8. This will be repeated in the next nationally televised game on January 6, 2018. Last year’s two 30-second commercials during the bowl telecast showcased Florida’s Paradise Coast to 5 million viewers.

Details on the 2017 FBU National Championship event can be found at

Sun-N-Fun in Top 25 Best Water Parks

Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, Collier County’s only water park, was named one of the top 25 water parks in the nation according to TripAdvisor, a travel website that allows visitors to review everything from restaurants and hotels to attractions and beaches.

Sun-N-Fun Lagoon came in at No. 24 on the list of water parks in the Traveler’s Choice Awards. The rankings for the annual Traveler’s Choice Awards are based on millions of customer reviews. Walt Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando took the top spot.

This is the second

TIF Student Ted Blanchard won the top raffle, a new laptop computer

TIF Student Ted Blanchard won the top raffle, a new laptop computer

year in a row Sun-NFun has made the list. Last year, the park was No. 21.

“This is a big honor for Sun-N-Fun Lagoon and Collier County,” said Barry Williams, director of the Collier County Parks & Recreation Division. “From our recreation, operations and maintenance staff, it is a team effort to maintain the quality of this facility in our community. We are thrilled to receive this national recognition and honored for all of our residents and visitors of Collier County who enjoy the waterpark.”

One million gallons of water fun thrills children and adults alike as they play in Sun-N-Fun’s four pools, long lazy river, lit splash playground or interactive water feature, slide down one of the five water slides and partake in concessions or other amenities.

The park offers a special discount to Collier County residents with a valid Florida driver’s license. If your license shows a Collier County address, you and your party will receive $2 off any 48 inch or taller entry, normally $13. Children 3 and under are admitted for free, and those shorter than 48 inches are just $6. Sales tax will be added to the fees listed above.

For more information about Sun-NFun Lagoon or other public pool facilities, please visit the Parks & Recreation Division online at or call 239-252-4021.

FWC Law Enforcement

Officers Osorio and Barringer were conducting federal fisheries patrol approximately 11 miles west of Doctor’s Pass when they saw a vessel inbound displaying fishing equipment. The officers stopped the vessel to conduct a resource inspection and determined that the captain of the vessel was on a paid charter. Further investigation determined that the captain did not possess the required licenses to guide and retain resources in federal waters. The investigation is ongoing .

Officers Yurewitch and Kleis were conducting land-based water patrol on US 41 near Everglades City. They saw two individuals fishing and a pickup truck parked near them. The officers contacted the two individuals to conduct a fishing license and resource inspection. During the encounter, the fishermen said that the truck was theirs. The officers saw a bucket containing legal fish, and found that neither subject had a fishing license in their possession. When the officers walked by the fishermens’ truck, they looked in the window and saw what appeared to be drugs and drug paraphernalia in plain view near the center console, along with a partially empty bottle of whiskey. The subsequent search revealed marijuana, paraphernalia and a bag of cocaine. The subject was arrested and booked into the Collier County Jail on multiple charges including felony possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The second fisherman was released from the scene and issued a warning for fishing with an expired fishing license.

Officers Yurewitch, Johnson, and Osorio responded to a Marine Emergency Response Team alert about a boating accident with injuries in the Marco River. Officers John son and Osorio waded through the water to the grounded vessel to assess the extent of the injuries and provide first aid. The officers helped secure the victim to a stretcher and waded back to an EMS vessel to transport the victim to an ambulance. Officers Yurewitch and Johnson waded back to the vessel to collect information and make sure the other passengers on the vessel were safe. Officer Reams met the victim at the hospital and collected information.

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