For Sloan Wheller, 5, Sunday’s Pancake Breakfast was also her birthday. Her parents marked the day by placing candles in her pancakes. The community turned out 557 people strong to celebrate at Marco Island’s Fire Station.
“These are people we don’t necessarily see at City Council meetings,” said Larry Magel, chairman of the Marco Island City Council. “These are Marco Islanders just living their lives and enjoying the community.”
From toddlers to teenagers and grade school students to seniors, pancakes and sausages with sides of scrambled eggs were shared with good conversations and neighborly greetings. Children climbed aboard the fire department’s ambulance while EMTs opened closets of gear to the delight of young viewers.
Through the hum of “Where’s the syrup? Oh, over there,” and “Gee, I haven’t seen you in a long time,” members of Marco Island’s Fire Rescue Foundation lugged tubs of eggs and sausage, coffee and pancake batter from the kitchen to cooks and servers. Fire Chief Mike Murphy, Council Chairman Larry Magel, Councilor Jerry Gibson and Steve Stefanides took turns flipping pancakes and joking about it.
Not a single person went away hungry. Pete and Darcie Guerin eagerly dished out seconds.
The Fire Rescue Foundation’s semi-annual Pancake Breakfast in no way resembled the highbrow fundraisers with glitz and glitter that spanned the winter social season, but in its hometown way, the event raised money for a good cause.
“We’re been at this for several years, and each time we hold a pancake breakfast, I am amazed at the turnout,” said Dianna Dohm, president of the foundation. “Our goal is to help fire-rescue personnel in times of hardship. We recently used foundation funds to assist a department engineer’s family.”
The firefighter had cancer and was hospitalized a long way from home. The foundation helped with traveling expenses and lodging for family members.
“Marco Island’s firefighters lay their lives on the line for us every day,” Dohm said. “We want them to know someone will be there for them if catastrophe strikes. We owe them that kind of support.”
At the end of the breakfast, the foundation wound up its annual cruise raffle by having Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala draw the winning ticket. Monte Lazarus won the 7-night, balcony cabin cruise for two on a Royal Caribbean vessel.
Dohm announced the breakfast raised $4,827.35 before expenses. She anticipated net profits to end up around $4,000. Besides sales of breakfast tickets, the total included T-shirt sales and donations at the event.
The foundation’s Fall Pancake Breakfast will be held in early November.