Final Spirit of Marco Island Award recipients announced


The Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island has announced the names of  the final two 2023 Spirit of Marco Island Award winners. The honorees are Hyla Crane and Arne and Jill Sandberg.  They will be formally recognized at a Gala Awards Dinner to be held on Saturday, April 29, 2023.

Hyla Crane was recently taken by surprise with the announcement of her selection at the recent Art Center’s Gala, held at the Island Country Club in front of 235 attendees. Jim Richards made the presentation on behalf of the Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island, alongside other Rotary Club members. Richards is also the current President of the Board of Directors for the Marco Island Center of the Arts. 

From left, Michelle Richards, Diana Bellini, Mike Richards, Hyla Crane, Jim Richards and Amanda Nelson.

Crane who is the executive director of the Center, is the longest serving director having just celebrated her ninth anniversary with the organization. She took over the helm of the center at a time when it was struggling financially and membership had declined. Through her leadership, vision and energy along with the support of the Board of Directors, she was the driving force for increasing and expanding programs and facilities which was instrumental in turning around the Center for the Arts, to where it is now financially strong and membership is at an all-time high!

More recently when the Marco Players disbanded, Crane who had previously worked in theatres for nearly a dozen years was instrumental in convincing the Board that taking over the theatre would be a natural extension of their mission. This led to the creation of the “Arts Center Theatre” which is now under the umbrella of the Center for the Arts, insuring that Community Theatre would live on.  

Arne and Jill Sandberg were also taken by surprise by the announcement of their selection as 2023 Spirit of Marco Island honorees at their recent Kiwanis breakfast meeting held at Stonewalls. Co-Presidents of the Kiwanis Club Mike & Barbara Murphy assisted with helping to make the presentation a surprise by working with Al Diaz who made the announcement on behalf of the Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island along with Rotary President Kathy Pasternak who made the formal presentation and Jim Richards.

From left,  Jim Richards, Arne and Jill Sandberg, Kathy Pasternak and Al Diaz.

The Sandberg’s were recognized for their many contributions to the community through their volunteer work in several organizations. They are both members of the Kiwanis Club and are also Rotarians as Arne is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club and Jill is a member of the Noontime Rotary Club. Arne serves on the Board of Directors with the Police Foundation and Jill serves on the Board of Directors with the Fire Foundation. They both serve on the Board of the Christmas Island Style. Jill is also a member of the Newcomers Club, serving on the Board as Special Events Coordinator and Arne is one of the Vice Presidents of the Men’s Club.

The Sandberg’s are well known for their festive attire, particularly in their role as Santa’s elves at various Christmas Island Style activities and this past summer they won the best dressed couple award at the Island Prom Night Celebration!

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The Sandberg’s, Hyla Crane and the previously announced winners, the Bargain Basket/ United Church of Marco Island and the Marco Island Yacht Club will all be formally presented with their 2023 Spirit of Marco Island Award at a Gala Awards Dinner and Silent Auction to be held on Saturday, April 29, 2023 the Bistro Soleil Restaurant located in Old Marco.

In addition, to attending the Gala, there are many sponsorship opportunities available, including the opportunity to sponsor one of the Honorees, including a VIP table at the event. For sponsorship opportunities please contact Linda Sandlin at 239-777-9200 or by email:

The proceeds from the event and silent auction are used to support local charities and scholarships. For more information and tickets for this event you may contact Al Diaz at 438-5285 or by email at