Tommie Smith to speak at Rotary South Scholar-Athlete Awards

Tommie Smith to speak at Rotary South Scholar-Athlete Awards

Sprinter who made iconic protest will address local high schoolers

Tommie Smith to speak at Rotary South Scholar-Athlete Awards

His silent gesture shook the sports world 50 years ago. On his visit to Southwest Florida, he’ll seek to inspire others to do the same.

Civil rights pioneer and Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith will be the keynote speaker for the 2019 Rotary of Fort Myers South Scholar-Athlete Awards banquet on Wednesday, May 16. The ceremony and announcement of scholarship recipients will run from 7-9 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers on 13051 Bell Tower Drive.

Smith and fellow Olympian John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists on the medal stand after the 200-meter dash at the 1968 Games in Mexico City, as captured by photographer John Dominis in one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Smith and Carlos were jeered, vilified, ejected from the stadium and banned from international competition, effectively ending their careers as track athletes.

Tommie Smith to speak at Rotary South Scholar-Athlete Awards

But to many, they became heroes for their protest against inequality, poverty, lynchings and a lack of regard for human rights amid the tumult of 1968. They received honorary doctorates from San Jose State University, where they competed collegiately, and won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award from ESPN.

“We are honored and privileged to have Dr. Smith speak at our program,” said Tracie Bagans, president of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South. “Our goal is to challenge the outstanding high school students who have been selected for this event to excel as scholars, as athletes and as citizens. Dr. Smith embodies those virtues and more.”

The 33rd annual event recognizes top athletes from area high schools based on athletic and academic achievement, along with strength of character. Eighteen Lee County-area high schools each nominated one top male and one top female varsity letter winner who demonstrate leadership characteristics, have GPAs of 3.2 or higher, and are involved in school and community activities. A selection committee of Rotary South members interviews nominees and selects the winners.

Tommie Smith to speak at Rotary South Scholar-Athlete Awards

The 36 nominees are listed below:

Bishop Verot Matthew Powell
Bishop Verot Hannah VanDress
Canterbury Camilo Lilleslatten
Canterbury Hannah Galbreath
Cape Coral Steven Rua
Cape Coral Kelsey Miskimins
Cypress Lake Janmikell Bastardo
Cypress Lake Jin YuHan Burgess
Dunbar Seneca Milledge
Dunbar Melanie Hardwick
East Lee County Hunter Hamilton
East Lee County Josie Altamirano
Estero Landen Fiore
Estero Kelli Kragh
Evangelical Christian Logan Pearlman
Evangelical Christian Elizabeth Wetmore
Fort Myers High Milan Tucker
Fort Myers High Maria Angelino
Gateway Charter Will Thorp
Gateway Charter Maylin Pino Romeu
Ida S. Baker Sam Phillips
Ida S. Baker Addison Bone
Island Coast Jordan Dovale
Island Coast Khiarra Polit
Lehigh Senior Nicholas Perdue
Lehigh Senior Ariel Wallace
Mariner Rashawn Hunter
Mariner Taylor Yount
North Fort Myers Adolphus Taylor
North Fort Myers Emma Johnson
Riverdale Nelson Smith
Riverdale Lauren Brashear
South Fort Myers Nathan Soliman
South Fort Myers Jaslyn Cintron
Southwest Florida Christian Academy Noah Sheffield
Southwest Florida Christian Academy Abigail Thomas

For more information about the event, contact Rob Scharlau at 239-810-2554 or      

Rotary Club of Fort Myers South

Tommie Smith to speak at Rotary South Scholar-Athlete Awards

Rotary Club of Fort Myers South has more than 140 members who are among the 1.3 million Rotarians worldwide. Service Above Self is the motto of Rotary International, which has contributed more than $1.2 billion and tens of thousands of volunteer hours toward polio eradication in addition to projects such as water quality, world peace and literacy. Rotary Club of Fort Myers South meetings are held each Monday at noon at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers on 13051 Bell Tower Drive. For more information, visit




The Uncommon Friends Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2019-2020 student scholarships.

Scholarships will be awarded to deserving individuals who want to pursue post-secondary degrees in education, law, technology, healthcare, technical, hospitality, and other studies.

Applications are open to all, including veterans, single parents, grieving youth, and people with disabilities. The deadline to apply is April 1.

Nominees must reside in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, or Hendry counties. They must need financial assistance, excel in school and/or their personal lives, and possess high-quality character traits. Scholarships vary in financial amounts, application requirements and commitments, schools, and duration.

Click here for application forms and specific requirements of each scholarship.

Golisano Foundation Awards $300K to Launch Best Buddies SWFL

Golisano Foundation Awards $300K to Launch Best Buddies SWFL

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Best Buddies is excited to announce a generous grant from the Golisano Foundation of $300,000 to expand its work in Southwest Florida to serve more individuals with IDD.

“With the grant provided by the Golisano Foundation, Best Buddies will focus on developing one-to-one friendship opportunities in schools (elementary to collegiate levels) located in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties, with hopes to expand into Glades and Hendry counties as well,” said Melanie Musick, Area Director.

Three members of the local area have committed to serve on the Advisory Board: Samantha Clark of Caring Transitions in Bonita Springs and Naples; Suzanne Tocci of Tortuga Preserve Elementary in Lehigh Acres; and Jodi Suskind of Thrivent Financial in Fort Myers.

With the Golisano Foundation’s support, Best Buddies was launched in Southwest Florida just a few months ago in October 2017. Funding has supported organizing the local office, providing for space and operations. The Southwest Florida office is now open and located at 5237 Summerlin Commons Blvd in Fort Myers and is staffed with two full-time employees, Melanie Musick, Area Director and Program Manager Katie Vazquez, who is the school liaison.

Currently, Southwest Florida has Best Buddies chapters at Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers High, Ida Baker High, Lehigh Senior High, Manatee Middle, Gateway Charter Intermediate, Varsity Lakes Middle, Tortuga Preserve Elementary, and Babcock Neighborhood School. Each chapter is supported by a Faculty Advisor and/or Special Education Advisor plus a Chapter President, in addition to the Program Manager.


After receiving a grant of $300,000 from the Golisano Foundation, Best Buddies Southwest Florida was pleased to welcome Ann Costello, Golisano’s Executive Director, to the new offices at Premier Executive Center in Fort Myers. There are currently nine Best Buddies chapters open in Southwest Florida.


“We are so pleased to support the launch and expansion of Best Buddies in Southwest Florida,” said Ann Costello. “The success we achieved opening Best Buddies in Western NY, has enabled us to replicate that in Southwest Florida. We had some delays launching due to Hurricane Irma, but the team in Southwest Florida made up for that and picked up a lot of steam in a short period of time. Best Buddies has an exceptional track record. It is focused on the next generation, it changes attitudes, fosters inclusion and friendships that transcend differences.  We are excited that we are able to expand this work building inclusive communities in Southwest Florida.” 

In conjunction with presenting sponsor FGCU Best Buddies, the local Best Buddies office will coordinate its inaugural Southwest Florida Friendship Ball, a prom-like event, open to high school and college members on November 3 at the Cohen Center Ballroom on FGCU’s campus. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

For more information about Best Buddies Southwest Florida, please contact Area Director Melanie Musick at, or 239-275-2510.


Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to nearly 2,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies’ eight formal programs — Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies ®, Jobs, Ambassadors, and Promoters — engage participants in each of the 50 states and in 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of more than 1.2 million people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit, or


About the Golisano Foundation

The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1985 by Tom Golisano, the founder and Chairman of Paychex, the Foundation now has more than $40 million in assets and awards about $2 million annually, to non-profit organizations in the western and Finger Lakes regions of New York, and Southwest Florida that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Golisano Foundation is committed to opening doors, changing perceptions, and forging partnerships. The goal is to provide individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with pathways to self-sufficiency, personal dignity, and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes. Through its targeted initiatives, the Foundation envisions that communities will encourage and commit to inclusion, acceptance and opportunity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and provide services that empower individuals to make their way productively and creatively in their communities.

For more information, see, and

Cape Kid with Style Shomari Mason

Cape Kid with Style Shomari Mason

Submitted by proud parents Alphonso and Lavinia Mason

Shomari Mason was born on March 10th, 2001 at Healthpark Hospital to parents Alphonso and Lavinia. Growing up in Fort Myers, Shomari always had big dreams, but he was actually scared to walk on grass as a baby. He would soon dominate the green pastures.

Shomari attended J. Colin English Elementary School in North Fort Myers, but his family moved to Cape Coral in 2004. Even as a young child, Shomari was very competitive. He earned the nickname “Lil’ Sho” at birth because he always had to be the center of attention around his family, no matter what. Growing up, he has been blessed with raw, natural talent and skills, on and off the field.

Sho (as he is called by family and friends) attended Mariner Middle School, but when he was cut from the basketball team, it changed his whole perspective regarding his work ethic and desire to succeed. He started training harder and smarter, working on his technique. All his training paid off, as Shomari is one of the best Pop Warner players to ever come through the Cape Youth Football Association.

Around the end of Sho’s 5th-grade year, he started attending a lot of youth camps. The first one was the Al Golden camp in Miami. “I’ll never forget the sounds and expressions everybody gave Shomari when he was just a little guy,” said dad, Al. Shomari attended the Al Golden camp 4 years in a row, along with camps at FAU, FIU, USF, UF, and FIT.

Shomari is more than just an athlete. He is a member of the Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Myers. He’s been a Junior Coach for the Cape Youth organization for 4+ years. Sho is a big inspiration to his little brother, 9-year-old Al, Jr. And he is a great friend and mentor to those who know him.

The biggest accomplishment of Shomari’s life to date has been making the US17 National Football Team in 2017 at West Georgia University. Sho had great scoring drives in 2 different games and was invited to play running back in the International Bowl, played at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. He had another great game and an amazing life experience.

Shomari is currently a Junior at Ida Baker High School and has already had 2 recruiting trips to FAU and Bethune Cookman. He’d like to get his college degree in Sports Management, with a minor in Physical Therapy. Eventually, he’s like to become a sports agent or a college football coach. His goal is to attend college in the southern states so that his family can continue to support his football career, traveling to see his games whenever possible.

The Mason family thanks God for all that he has given Shomari and for the people who have supported him and his family over the years.

Publisher’s Note: As someone who has been fortunate to watch Shomari play football since he was little, it’s been a joy to see him grow up to be an amazing talent, a humble person, always polite and grateful for what he has. It will be a thrill to see him join the ranks of college and professional athletes to come out of Cape Coral.


Shomari’s achievements:

  • JV Offensive Player of the Year (2015)
  • Varsity “Top Newcomer” Award (2016)
  • First Team All County (2017)
  • All District Honorable Mention (2017)
  • Offensive Player of the Year (2017)
  • Special Teams Player of the Year (2017)
  • US U-17 National Team member (2018), beating Team British Columbia in 2018 International Bowl
  • Broke the Ida Baker HS record for long jump.


The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools has announced the six recipients of the 2018 Golden Apple Teacher Award. 

Four of the six winners are representing Cape Coral schools!

They are Matthew Bourbina, Fort Myers High School; Dr. Patrick Hanrahan, Ida S. Baker High School; Samantha Hutchinson, Island Coast High School; Esteban Jaramillo, Mariner High School; Brooke Przespolewski, Gulf Elementary School; and Maria Rose, Edison Park Creative & Expressive Arts School.

The Golden Apple Recipients are chosen after going through an extensive selection process that began in September with a communitywide invitation to nominate teachers from The School District of Lee County. The six finalists were selected after completing a three-step process, which included a blind comprehensive application, observations in their classroom of their teaching style and skill, and personal interviews with the Golden Apple Selection Committee. 

The Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program was the first major project funded and developed by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc.

Recipients of the Golden Apple Teacher Award will be honored at a black-tie affair held at 5:30 p.m. on April 6 at the Hyatt Regency at Coconut Point. The banquet will be broadcasted via NBC2 at 7 p.m.on April 8.

Tickets for the Golden Apple Banquet can be purchased for $160 per person by contacting the Foundation office at (239) 337-0433.

Deadline Extended: Applications Being Accepted for 2018 “Do The Right Thing” Scholarship

Deadline Extended: Applications Being Accepted for 2018 “Do The Right Thing” Scholarship

It’s that time of the year where the Cape Coral Police Department gives high school seniors the opportunity to apply for a $1,000.00 scholarship. The “Do The Right Thing Scholarship Program” gives (2) two high school seniors $1,000.00 each to their designated college/university.

            Requirements for Scholarship:

  • Enrolled in a 12th grade Cape Coral School
  • Maintained a GPA of 2.5 or better
  • Have a resume
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • 300 word typed essay

    Applications can be found on the “Do The Right Thing” tab on our website, by clicking on the file link below and printing a copy, or by picking up an application in the police department lobby located at 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard. All applications need to be filled out and postmarked by March 16th, 2018. Please note that applicants DO NOT have to be past “Do The Right Thing” winners.

2018 “Do The Right Thing” Scholarship Application

Please note the extended application deadline, extended from March 2nd out to March 16th.


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