Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Oceanic Evening a Sparkling Success

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Oceanic Evening a Sparkling Success

Article excerpt

At this year's Mote Marine Oceanic Evening, I heard it time and time again: "The Ritz-Carlton ballroom has never looked more beautiful."

And I have to agree.

With its white, sequined tablecloths, its absolutely stunning crystal vases overflowing with white orchids and dangling crystals - - and the walls aglow with crystals and white twinkling lights -- the effect was, well, magical.

Add in the Ritz-Carlton's beautiful new appointments, and the room has never looked better.

The event began with a cocktail hour in the Ritz foyer, where 445 elegantly attired guests -- the most in the event's history -- gathered for Mote's 60th "diamond" anniversary event.

Seen at the event were Sharon Crosby, Board Chair G. Lowe Morrison, Jim Brown, Irene Murray and Mike Richardson, Michael Chokr, Amir Chokr, Veronica and Jay Brady, Kaitlyn Fusco, Danielle Gladding, Phil and Julie Delaney, Patricia and Roger Courtois, Nancy Detert, Greg and Jennifer Steube, Joe and Nancy McElmeel, Teri Hansen, Felice Schulaner, Julie Leach, Sally Trout, Patty and George Gondelman and many more.

In welcoming guests, event chair Judy Graham said, "We have our biggest group of people in Mote's history here tonight. It's just phenomenal."

Also speaking was Mote's President and CEO Michael Crosby, who paid tribute to Mote's newly established Leadership Circle, donors who have given $1 million or more. Included in this elite "circle" are two anonymous donors plus Maurice and Carolyn Cunniffe, Bob and Anne Essner, James and Pati Ericson, Elizabeth Moore and Carol and Barney Barnett. These benefactors, along with many others, have contributed to Mote's "Oceans of Opportunity" capital campaign, with its goal of raising $50 million by year's end.

"As we mark this milestone anniversary," said Crosby, "we are also looking to the future. The challenges facing our oceans are enormous, and independent marine science institutions like Mote are an endangered species."

Crosby then announced that, to date, more than $38 million has been raised, monies which will be used to support Mote's independently run programs and initiatives, research projects and to hire "the best and the brightest" scientists of tomorrow.

Following dinner and the raffle of an exquisite diamond "shark" pendant created by Diamond Vault, guests danced to the music of Tampa's DeLeon Orchestra.

Brunch on the Bay

Brunch on the Bay once again welcomed more than 1,000 supporters, alumni, faculty and staff to the college bayfront, where area restaurants treated guests to samples of their signature dishes, along with Champagne and mimosas. The day would have been perfect had it not been for the unseasonably warm temperatures, which left many brunch-goers reaching for fans that had been placed around the tables.

Guests were greeted by student ambassadors and escorted to their tables. …

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