The National Sports Gala is sounding more like a day at Wrigley Field in Chicago where, on most summer afternoons, as much is going on outside the ballpark as inside "The Friendly Confines."
While sports celebrities will be honored with National Sports Achievement Awards in a special ballroom dinner, a mammoth silent auction will be going on in the lobby of the Radisson Beach Suite Resort on Saturday, June 24.
The beneficiary of the event is the Marco Island YMCA, with proceeds ticketed for membership scholarships for children.
Dave Rice, Sports Gala chairman, calls the dinner and silent auction "a definite win-win for lots more people."
While dinner guests will be at tables with sports celebrities sharing anecdotes about their lives, a silent auction with items valued at a total of $40,000 will be up for bids.
"Generally, admission to a silent auction is reserved for patrons attending the event," Rice said. "My thought was why not open the silent auction to the entire community to add to 'things to do' on Marco?"
Dinner guests, too, can bid on items.
The silent auction is free, while the Sports Gala is $150 a person.
Brian Shimer of Naples, the 2002 Olympics bronze medalist driver in four-man bobsled competition, is the newest addition to a star-studded gala. Shimer, the Naples High grad, is a five-time Olympian (1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002).
NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr. and son Kellen Jr., now a member of the Cleveland Browns, will attend.
Also to appear will be Immokalee's Edgerrin James, who recentlychanged his Indianapolis Colts jersey for Arizona Cardinals colors, along with his cousin, Javarris James, an outstanding football player at Immokalee High. The younger James will follow in Edgerrin's footsteps at the University of Miami.
The silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m. Bidding closes at 8:30 The dinner begins with cocktails at 6, with dinner at 7:30, allowing time for Sports Gala attendees to survey the items.
Rice said silent auction committee members Dale Rod, Laurie Grover, Bill Morris, Roger Raymond, Bedford Biles, Robbie Webb, Traute Gentry, Ashley Lupo, Linda Keutmann, Chris Quinton and Debbie Roddy have put together a diversified list of items.
The sports memorabilia for auction includes a Gene Sarazen-autographed golf bag, Shaquille O'Neal-autographed basketball and photograph, Yogi Berra-autographed baseball, an autographed photo of NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, a University of Miami helmet autographed by Edgerrin and Javarris James, a football helmet autographed by all the honorees at the dinner and autographed basketballs signed by former NBA greats Magic Johnson and Larry Byrd.
Other auction items include a dive certification by Scuba Adventures, passes to Disney World and Universal Studios, airline tickets to Key West, stays at the Marco Island Hilton Beach Resort, the Naples Beach Hotel and the Trianon Hotel in Naples, one-week stays in private vacation homes in Canada, Colorado and North Carolina, assorted golf packages, restaurant gift certificates, a fishing excursion, golf for four at the Island Country Club, Lely Golf Resort and Cedar Hammock and artwork by Abe Abi-Sami.
Also awaiting bidders are an excursion for 10 on a private yacht, a night of elegance with hors d'oeuvres, dinner and dessert at three exclusive restaurants including transportation in a vintage Rolls Royce, manicure and pedicure, fishing excursion by UnReel, complete car detailing by Progressive Auto, a guitar from Morningstar Music, Key West boat excursion, jewelry by Harbor Goldsmith, admissions to Captain Brien's Comedy Club.
Everett and Alice Van Hoesen are particularly proud of a painting being offered that is done by their grandson, Greg Van Hoesen.
Greg, middle linebacker for the University of California Bears, is offering an oil painting of Mike Vanderjagt kicking a field goal. Vanderjagt is depicted in his new Dallas Cowboys uniform, having moved during this offseason from the Indianapolis Colts.
Sports Achievement Awards will be at 7:30 p.m. Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts, former AFL star Dave Kocurek, former Chicago Bear/Dallas Cowboy Don Healy, former NBA player/coach/administrator Allen Bristow, Hall of Fame track coach Buddy Fowlkes and Vanderjagt are among 25 recipients.
Dinner entertainment features "The Many Faces of Jennifer Ramsey," a nationally known celebrity impersonator.
Gala tickets can be reserved by calling Debbie Roddy at 394-3144, ext. 275.