The Optimist Club of Marco Island (OCMI) celebrated its first year with an end-of-the-year sports banquet, held on Sunday at Tommie Barfield Elementary.
The event recognized the players, coaches and supporters that have made the Optimist Club of Marco Island’s first year a success. In attendance were City Council Chairman Rob Popoff, Lely High School Football Coach Steve Pricer, City Councilor Chuck Keister, Parks & Recreation Director Bryan Milk and members of the Washington Redskins cheerleading squad.
Greg West, master of ceremonies, said, “We had to navigate through a few road bumps along the way, but overall the OCMI Board is very happy with our first year’s success.”
West introduced Pricer, who provided an inspirational and informative keynote speech on the core values of a student athlete, emphasizing character, honesty and personal values. Popoff and Keister also addressed the crowd and stressed the importance of the Optimist Club on the island and the valuable services it offers to our community.
In his President’s address, Tom Garousi acknowledged the key contributors to the success of this year’s Optimist Club of Marco Island youth sports programs.
“When it comes to the kids, this island never fails to amaze me,” he said. “We are blessed with some very dedicated volunteers that have raised so many donations and gifts that we probably could stock several auction events, many times over. Support from our community leaders, businesses and families during these economic times, leaves me speechless and grateful.”
Some of those volunteers included, Petra Gengenbach, Nancy McMullen, Maria Hurdis, Nicol Konkus, Frank Rose, Cathy Cleary, Joe Bartos, Terry West and especially Vee Young, for spearheading and organizing the auctions and soliciting donations.
An award was given to Bryan Milk for his untiring support of the Optimist Club.
Milk said, “The Optimist Club of Marco Island has unified youth sports on Marco Island in a way that has not been available before.” He encouraged parents to volunteer their time to assist in its growth. Garousi also gave appreciation awards to West of Kinetico Water Systems of Southwest Florida, Nadine Stretton, Vic’s Island Pizza, Val Simon, Marco Island Sun Times and Adamo Serravalle, Ristorante Davinci, for their continued support.
OCMI Vice President Jim Young and Treasurer Bill Hollowsky were recognized for their dedication and tireless commitment to the club and the community.
Garousi said, “None of this would have been possible without the collaboration and efforts of these two gentlemen.”
Diane Trzyna, basketball league president, and Kim Burke, soccer league president, were given framed jerseys, representing their sport. Garousi praised them as “The pillars of the Optimist Club” for their devotion and efforts in successfully organizing and running the OCMI’s newest youth sports programs.
Garousi gave the President’s Award to Mike and Dawn Snyder for their ground-breaking efforts in starting the Marco Eagles Football & Cheerleading Program seven years ago.
The Snyders went as far as mortgaging their home to fund the fledgling program and became the inspiration for what is now the Optimist Club of Marco Island.
Garousi said, “Mike and Dawn cared more than others thought was wise, risked more than others thought was safe, dreamt more than others thought was practical and expected more than others thought was possible.”
Garousi also honored each coach with a Certificate of Appreciation. The culmination of the event was the Player Participation Awards for youth athletes. Each athlete proceeded to the stage to announce their names and the sports they participated in. They then were awarded their medals from each league president, or representative.
More than 30 businesses helped with the banquet, providing food and supplies, along with prizes for the Chinese & Silent Auctions, hosted by Vee Young and Maria Hurdis. The Optimist Club of Marco Island would also like to thank all of its sponsors. In the last year, more than 75 businesses contributed to OCMI programs, through team sponsorships and donations. Without their support, none of these programs would be possible.
On behalf of the OMCI Board, parents and youth sports participants, I would like to thank Tom Garousi for his vision to launch the Optimist Club of Marco Island. Tom has sacrificed countless hours to assure that the OCMI will provide the youth sports programs that Marco Island deserves. His leadership and sense of purpose is greatly appreciated.
For more information about the Optimist Club of Marco Island, go to MarcoOptimistClub.org.