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Inaugural Chefs Cooking For Kids event raises $60,000

May 8, 2013
SPECIAL TO THE CITIZEN - Benefits regional Big Brothers Big Sisters ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

FORT MYERS - Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast-Lee County has announced that $60,000 was raised at its inaugural Chefs Cooking For Kids event benefiting the children of Lee County.

The "Top Chef" culinary extravaganza at The Club at Grandezza, enjoyed by more than 300 guests, featured 17 top local chefs who showcased their culinary specialties as well as cocktails, music, silent and live auctions and camaraderie, benefiting a great local cause impacting the lives of children and families.

"What an amazing evening this was, not only for the community, but for the children whose lives we change because of the generosity of so many," said Joy Mahler, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast.

"A special thank you to those who came out to enjoy the event and learn more about the organization. We appreciate your generosity and support," she said.

Chef David Lenio, with Kensington Country Club was recognized with the "People's Choice" award for his Maine lobster with crab French toast.

Joining Lenio as participating chefs were Jason Billington, Angelina's Ristorante; Billy Mak, Blu Sushi; Raena Hobson, The Club at Grandezza; Brian McNeff, Christof's on McGregor; Harold Balink, Cru; Gregg Buell, Fat Katz Sports Bistro; Marbin Avilez, The Firestone Grille; Ryan Love and Ellis Delahousay, Norman Love Confections; Craig Panneton, The Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina; Todd Johnson, Rumrunners; Brian McElhiney, Twisted Vine Bistro; Ed Padden and Chris Clark, Vi at Bentley Village; and Ryan Kida, YABO.

"What a great success for our first Chefs Cooking For Kids. We want to thank our event sponsors, chefs and the entire Lee County community for their tremendous support," added Ben Simmons, Big Brothers Big Sister community board chair of Lee County. "Another big thank you to our board and the committee, led by our amazing community resource director, Angela Melvin. This success will be a big boost to our program allowing us to provide more children facing adversity with professionally supported mentoring that changes their lives for the better, forever."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast provides one-to-one mentoring relationships to children ages 6 to 18 years old throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success; avoidance of risky behaviors; and higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships.

The organization provides children facing adversity, often those of single or low-income households or families with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. For more information, visit



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