The Optimist Club of Marco Island will host its second annual awards benefit dinner on April 22nd at the JW Marriott on Marco Island. Building on the vision for the organization to unite the families on Marco Island around youth sports, the theme for the dinner is a “Lokahi Luau.”
In Polynesian, Lokahi means to “unite families,” and that is exactly what the Optimist Club of Marco Island (OCMI) is doing here for the community. “We see tremendous value in having a good foundation for the kids who play sports in OCMI. Our programs offer development and structure and we’d like to bolster that with the support of the families and community on Marco Island. Sports can bring people together who may not otherwise share a common interest. We feel it’s important to create an environment where the kids know there is a larger family behind them,” stated Meg Bonos, member of the OCMI board.
At the Luau, the Optimist Club will announce the 2017 recipient of the OCMI Outstanding Scholar Athlete award and present the Coach and Volunteers of the Year. The Optimist Club kicked off its Scholar Athlete Scholarship Program last year. The organization selects one graduating senior who has excelled on and off the fields and has participated in the Optimist Club programs. Last year’s inaugural winner was Patrick Michel of Marco Island Academy (MIA). Michel was an outstanding graduate who was also a finalist for the Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete award and other scholarships.
The OCMI Youth Leadership group will present an award of $250 to Teagan Havemeier, a sophomore at MIA. Havemeier won the local OCMI Essay competition that was held in concert with the Optimist International Essay contest. The theme was “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges.” “We were very excited to participate in the Optimist International essay program this year. Teagan’s work was an amazing and very touching piece of writing. We couldn’t be more proud to have her essay represent the Optimist Club of Marco Island in the District competition,” added Jayme Lowe, OCMI board member who oversees the Leadership group.
Monies raised from the OCMI annual award and benefit dinners help support the organization’s scholarship and financial aid programs for children who want to play but may not have the means to pay. This past year, OCMI granted financial aid to over 20 families on Marco Island who couldn’t afford to pay for their children to play sports. The Optimist Club would like to double this amount in the 2017-18 season. The organization traditionally has relied on its registration fees and community sponsorships and donations to run the sports and leadership programs for the kids. Bonos explained, “We are extremely grateful for our partnership with the JW Marriott and for all that they give to the community and kids on Marco Island. Rick Medwedeff and his colleagues are one-of-a-kind. This event will not only help support our scholarship and financial aid programs, but it will be a special night for the families to spend time together off of the playing field and coming together for their kids.”
OCMI is a volunteer, not-for-profit organization with the purpose of providing youth athletic and leadership programs for the children of Marco Island and the surrounding areas. The organization is a local chapter and member of Optimist International. OCMI offers recreational soccer, basketball and flag football leagues, travel soccer, golf, lacrosse and is re-invigorating its youth tackle football program with the start of a U10 Tackle Football team this Spring. Jennifer Reeves, coach and board member concluded, “We all work very hard to give the kids a great experience on the field playing sports. Growing up playing sports gave us life lessons and terrific memories. All of the parents involved in OCMI want the same type of experience for the kids here on Marco. It’s exciting that we’re expanding our sports offerings to include tackle football, golf and more. The Leadership program will provide the kids with another experience to develop key skills and teach them the value of giving back as well.”
The OCMI Lokahi Luau is open to the community. The Luau will be held on the North beach outside of the JW Marriott. The evening will begin at 6 pm with cocktails, a putting contest and cornhole tournament followed by dinner, OCMI awards, and special entertainment. A silent auction and raffle will be held. The JW Marriott will have its Kids Club available for children of the Luau guests. The resort is offering a special room rate that evening for the attendees.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.mioptimistclub.org.