Seven people (and an institution) were honored at the inaugurual Spirit of Marco Island awards hosted and presented by the Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club
The spirit of Marco Island is alive and well.
To honor those who exemplify that spirit, the Rotary Club of Marco Island presented the first-ever Spirit of Marco Island Awards at a dinner Friday night at the San Marco Catholic Church parish hall.
Honorees included Reverend Kyle Bennett, Howard Jordan, Marco Community Bank, Mike Minozzi, Bill and Betsy Perdichizzi, and Bill and Karen Young.
Each winner of the award had been previously surprised by the club’s “prize patrol,” who tracked down the recipients, informed them they had won, and presented them with certificates.
After a cocktail hour, buffet dinner and silent auction, master of ceremonies Al Diaz got the ball rolling, announcing the presenters who introduced each honoree in turn.
Diaz drew laughs from the roomful of attendees by displaying his “hook,” an overhead tree trimmer with which he threatened any speaker who went on for too long.
First up was Alan Sandlin, who introduced Bill and Betsy Perdichizzi, and made it clear that the hook was not merely for decoration.
Sandlin lauded the Perdichizzis as the moving force behind the Marco Island Historical Museum, and took the audience through most of the history of the island, as well as the museum.
Val Simon, president of the Rotary Club of Marco Island, or “Noontime” Rotary, then presented a plaque to the Perdichizzis, and to each recipient in turn.
Bill and Karen Young, introduced by John Nachez, were honored for their work with the YMCA, MIHA, and the Upon a Star Foundation, among other charitable causes, in the 10 years they have lived on the island since relocating from Indianapolis.
Bill spent 30 years in the auto business before coming to Marco, and emphasized the importance of giving back to the community where one lives.
Donna Blankman gave the crowd a little background on Reverend Kyle Bennett of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He has been active in hurricane relief, both locally and in his former community of Pas Christian, Louisiana, has spearheaded inter-faith dialogue for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim islanders, and has worked with underprivileged and at-risk children.
When asked to make a few remarks himself, he pointed out that “it’s dangerous to give a microphone to a preacher.”
The proceedings were interrupted by the presentation of a special award and Paul Harris Fellowship for Marco Island Seafood Festival chairman Stan Niemczyk of the Sunrise Rotary Club, and again when the silent auction went live and entertainer Steve Reynolds helped auction off a week at a palatial residence in Canada’s Laurentian mountains and a boat cruise donated by Marco River Marina.
Howard Jordan was introduced by Greg West — another candidate for the hook— and honored for founding the Upon a Star Foundation, and helping the YMCA operate their skate park.
Mike Minnozzi, introduced by George Schroll, was extolled as a long-time civic leader who has served in many capacities for Marco Island, including spending eight years on the city council and being selected chairman, acting as fire commissioner, Collier County MPO representative, director of the YMCA and chamber of commerce, and leader of many events and organizations.
Al Diaz provided the introduction for the Marco Community Bank, winner of the only Spirit of Marco Island award given to a business rather than an individual or couple.
President Richard Storm was praised for encouraging community involvement by his employees. The bank has hosted dozens of events in the past several years, notably the Marco Bridge Run, which benefits the YMCA, and provides their community room at no charge to local groups.
The Rotary Club said it intends to make the Spirit of Marco Island Awards an annual event.
Money raised from the auction and ticket sales goes to the club’s scholarship fund, providing academic and need-based college tuition assistance for local students.