Meet Simon Tracy aka The Ninja

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Simon has been running the Gobble Gobble since 2013 when he took home the 1st place victory for best costume as a pilgrim with a musket. That first year he found his groove. Before the race he admitted he was “freaking out a bit.” That year he didn’t have family around so he decided to go and be with his friends from Leapfrog Running, a very close knit group: his extended family of sorts.

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At the finish line Simon pretended he was shooting a turkey!

Simon is one of the main leaders of the Gordon’s pass challenge with Paul Neils, You can read all about that here in this article from our partners at Fit Naton Magazine

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http://fitnationmag.com/gordon-pass-challenge-beach-workout/

Tracy is a big believer in the integration of Yoga into running and he’s seen great improvement himself. He has been setting personal records consistently and placing or winning his age group this past year. His motto is “go and figure it out on your own” as he has. Simon says, “I don’t profess to know all the answers” but people ask him for advice all the time.

When he isn’t working out he is an artist. He even makes some of his own art tools. Check out the work he did here at this home on this wall:

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Come out and celebrate with us and bring out your best costumes and have a great time everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized

Special Service Sunday

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Emmanuel Lutheran Service Benefiting St. Matthew’s House

This Sunday November 8, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Race Director and Principal Trumpeter of the Naples Philharmonic Matthew Sonneborn will  perform during two services to benefit St. Matthew’s House. During the collection portion of the service indicate on your check memo ‘St Matthew’s House’ or bring checks/donations for them to the service. Additionally, following the service Matt will be there to greet and collect donations for St Matthew’s House. He will perform music of Telemann, Stephenson and Charpentier at the 9:30 and 11 AM services. Emmanuel Lutheran is located at 777 Mooringline Drive.

If you cannot make it and would like to make a donation you can do it by scrolling to make a donation Here:

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Anyone who makes a donation of $30 or more through this or the Gobble Gobble donation site qualifies for VIP Packet Pickup of which will be announcing opportunities for in the coming weeks. Easy or no lines, early Pickup of numbers and shirt size availability guaranteed and undivided personal service.

About St Matthew’s House:

The mission of St. Matthew’s House is based on the principle, “to impact the lives of the least of these in a spiritual environment that is both compassionate and disciplined.” It all started in 1987 when a group of Naples parishioners followed a calling to bring food to a homeless population living in a nearby wooded area.

The “Task Force for the Homeless” began gathering contributions of both food and clothing, establishing the mission’s food pantry.  Throughout the years, community support has helped grow the small mission into a multi-faceted organization focused on spiritual change.

Our 100% donation model allows all of our operating expenses to be covered by unique social enterprises – which enable us to direct 100% of all public donations toward our life-changing programs that continue to enrich countless lives in our community.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Meet John Columbus

A glimpse into the world of professional cycling

10801521_307882136073629_4552391820988993481_nHave you ever stumbled across a professional cycling event on TV and wondered who those guys in the support cars are? One of them happens to be on your safety support team at the Gobble Gobble Four Miler. John Columbus started tinkering with bikes out of necessity. He was a bike messenger in Boston in 1991 and kept having to repair his bike. He went to the Boston Public Library and found everything he could to educate himself on bicycle maintenance and would order parts himself or buy them from a local bike shop as a do it yourself-er. It didn’t take long before he found himself employed as a commercial bike mechanic. There was a company in Boston who sold bike tours to Europe where one would stay in five-star hotels on vacation package deals. They had a fleet of different types of bikes and John took the job. He had to maintain hybrids, touring bikes, trailer equipment, locks etc., and he was good at it. He would box it all up and Fedex and UPS it out to Italy or Spain and that was all great.

By 1997, he decided to apply as a mechanic at a local bike shop. It was there that he met a pro race mechanic who passed along the tools of the trade to him so that he could specialize in serious racing bike maintenance. He kept encouraging him to go to the Olympic training center. John has been a professional level mechanic since 2007. He was trained both in Rhode Island where they did regional training at the time and in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Center itself.

John leans out the support vehicle to offer a quick repair in motion!

John leans out of the support vehicle to offer a quick repair in motion!

Since then he found that having worked in local bike shops here, there was a niche market of triathletes and competitive cyclists that he could service as a specialist. His business is called Race Doctor Pro Cycling. People would walk into the bike shops on a Thursday and realize “Oh I have a race this weekend and I should really get my bike tuned up.” With the kind of volume at most bike shops, the customers don’t realize that the turnaround can’t quite always be quick enough to get you set up and to your race all tuned up on the same day. That IS something he can offer in his business at Race Doctor Pro Cycling and at an extremely high level. What is more, he can come and get your bike from you and return it to you. John understands that you might not have thought about the fact your bike needs to be in top shape for the weekend until it is too late to help you. That is why he formed a business with quick and reliable service that has hit the ground running since 2014.

One of the contingencies he put in place for the summer months was to still keep his hands in the racing world. This summer in fact, he found himself flying to Belgium as a landing point and working in the Czech Republic and Germany for a racing team. It is a tough and dedicated life to work a team’s equipment. Though the cities change from day to day they must work from their base and have all of the equipment gathered, show up early to have everything ready again at the beginning of each day cleaned and running perfectly at performance optimized level to the next start line.

Locally in Naples, on days in the summer where things are slow he will occasionally just go out and help people he sees that breakdown. He sees that as not only good business as his vehicle is easily identified by his brand, but as a way to advocate for better safety. He will occasionally strike up a conversation with cyclists that he sees to warn them of how dangerous our area is and to obey safe cycling habits when he sees situations arise. He tries to lead by example and about 75% of the time, it is met with gratitude.

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You can see John giving back at several events for causes that he tries to support. He helped with the Pan-Florida Challenge for Hungry Kids, for Cyclefest Miami which benefits a battered women’s shelter, and with Campagnola USA for a ride in NY with 5.600 riders among others.

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Helping feed hungry kids with Maura Plante and the Pan-Florida Challenge

While he enjoys being his own boss, he has a great appreciation for what it takes to run your own business. He calls it a “crash business course and the best you could receive.” If you want to get a professional tune up for your upcoming race check out his facebook page here:

Posted in Uncategorized

Meet Michelle Kramer

This week we want you to meet our friend and participant from the Gobble Gobble Four Miler Michelle Joy Kramer who is a local nutritionist and health coach. Her message is clear as with others we have interviewed and inspiring:

mjk_beach2_socialsFormer smoker turned Ironman.

One morning in her apartment in NYC Michelle lit up a cigarette and turned on the TV. She was unaware of the impact of what was about to happen to her. She found herself watching the Ironman championships and in tears. Inside it lit a fire of inspiration to one day compete in one. She moved back to Florida and eventually decided to try and find a coach.
When her stepfather read the paper and started a conversation about a local triathlete’s successes Michelle had the good fortune of him saying “you won’t be able to do that.” Those words were like liquid nitrogen. She marched into her local running store and she asked for a reference for a coach only to find out that the person helping her was married to a gifted one who was willing to barter for massage therapy, which was her occupation at the time. The thing is, Michelle had very little experience and really had mainly just run a few 5K’s. She didn’t even own a bike at the time and could hardly swim a lap in the pool. Her coach Marty immediately had her sign up for her first sprint triathlon.

“When I started I was extremely intimidated, I thought I couldn’t do this, but I had the most incredible coach and he got me out of bed everyday. I would cry and fall off and he would say get back up..let’s go. He did Kona every year. At 75  he still competes at Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.”

She was hooked

She ended up winning her age group in her first event and she was hooked. She moved up to Olympic distance, then a half Ironman and within a year and a half the full Ironman. She was eventually able to qualify for Kona Ironman World Championships. While many people today do Ironmans only about 10% qualify and finish the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
After she achieved her Ironman goals she decided to head in a different direction. She decided to share her transformation with others and retired from triathlon training and competing. She became a health coach and nutritionist. Her nutrition during training and her drive changed her personal health and outlook and she just made a business plan and created her vision for it. You can visit her site here and though her client list is currently full, she might be able to offer you advice and steer you to another.

Michelle’s message to you:

You can do this! She had a personal record at the Gobble Gobble Four Miler ™ last year herself. You know you are going to overeat a bit on Thanksgiving so why not start your morning at Venetian Village with your family and do something great for yourself and make it your tradition? It is the perfect way to celebrate. Go ahead and sign up even if you never have before. Here is a simple training program that can help you get to the finish line or better yet just walk or jog in the fun run event or 1 Mile event. This is a non-intimidating event for all levels.

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Michelle Kramer coming into the last turn of the 2014 Gobble Gobble Four Miler in her super hero garb.

Michelle Joy Kramer CHHC, AADP
www.michellejoykramer.com

Posted in Gobble Participants

Meet Tamiami Ford employee Ernie

Ernie Tolson is the shuttle driver for the Gobble Gobble from Tamiami Ford.

There’s a fellow that has been helping with this event who has a pretty inspiring story.

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Ernie drives the shuttle donated from our partners at Tamiami Ford. That helps make parking a snap from Northern Trust to the start line for those who choose our park and ride option. We virtually never have a wait and shuttles run continuously.

When Ernie was 16 growing up in the ghettos of Washington, DC his father passed away from a battle with kidney failure while on dialysis. His mother shortly thereafter was raped and very badly beaten. She was unable to care for Ernie and as he put it, so severely disfigured from the beating she was “unrecognizable.”

He hit the streets in search of work and off on his own living in a car. “I would do janitorial work, handyman odd jobs, moving cars or anything that I could to get by. At one point I happened upon a car dealership and spoke to someone I assumed was a manager of some sort. It was actually the owner of the dealership.” Mr Crans found Ernie to be very honest, sincere and badly in need of the job and hired him on the spot. Ernie says, “I was destined for jail or dead. I take no credit. Anyone who has any faith..[and hears my story will understand this was god’s work.]”

Mr. Crans unfortunately was diagnosed with Parkinson’s after a time, and though he was a very wealthy man, he didn’t want his wife to have to be a caretaker and burdened with the responsibility of what he felt were embarrassing home health care issues nor did he want to have to hire a home health care professional that he didn’t know or trust. He entrusted Ernie as his driver and caretaker for 20 years before passing away and had basically adopted him as a family member. He would also have Ernie transport his boat to his Port Royal home in Naples and drive him from Washington DC as needed. Mr Crans told him how much his service had meant to him before he passed and left him a condo is his estate here in Naples. That was an incredible blessing as was their long relationship to each other’s mutual benefit.

Now Ernie found himself once again unemployed and looking for work. Where would he go? He had only one job on his resume and his reference was now deceased. When he went to Tamiami Ford there was a very familiar story that was about to take place. He interviewed for the job with someone he assumed was a manager of sorts. Mind you, this was around 2007 or 2008 during the economic downturn so there were more than a few applicants. It turned out to be Tim Zellars the owner and Ernie’s story struck the same human chord with him that it had with Mr Crans. He was intrigued. Ernie has been employed at Tamiami Ford as a driver for their shuttle ever since and is very grateful for the opportunity afforded him by the Zellars family and their kindness to him over the years. Their dealership embodies family and faith.

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Ernie’s mother is now a Deacon and pastor and an inspiration to others from what she has endured.

After the devastating occurrences of when he was 16 Ernie was convinced “there ain’t no god.” It was a year and a half later he met Mr Crans who truly was a who’s who of DC, and his spouse was a descendant of Abraham Lincoln by the way, and that changed his life forever. Ernie’s faith is unwavering. When you meet him and talk to him if you are lucky enough getting a shuttle ride from him, you will meet a man full of happiness and love that is hard to match.

Recently some old friends of Mr. Crans contacted Ernie from Washington asking if he could help. Mrs Sweets asked if he could move to Naples to help take care of her. He told her he was in Naples and he offered to help her. She had to have an amputation and was in a nursing home. He assisted her for 2 years before she passed recently. He often talks to people that he drives and occasionally there have been folks that invite him to their homes for meals that he can tell some are a bit lonely and could use some company. He always accepts their invitations. He recently has been volunteering over at St Matthew’s House quite a bit. He has accepted his calling in life to help others and has led a rich life indeed.

The spirit of the Gobble Gobble is tied to everyone connected to the event. Please realize what a special event takes place on Thanksgiving here. We are so grateful to each and every sponsor, volunteer, participant and family connected to this event and especially the charities. This year stay tuned for a special opportunity we will introduce with our partners at Tamiami Ford closer to the event.

The Zellars family who own Tamiami Ford are pretty special people and I don’t mind telling you that my family drives two excellent vehicles that I have purchased from them. A number of close friends have also been very happy with their cars and how they were treated there. Don’t hesitate to support this local family business if you are looking for a great car or truck.

Tamiami Ford

Posted in Sponsors, Uncategorized

Meet Kathy Bigham

Kathy Bigham, A CEO that finds time to run and gives back

bigham jewelersKathy Bigham used to think she didn’t have time to take care of herself. “My lifestyle was to put business and family first, and as a mom I put myself last.” As a mother of two and a CEO in charge of her business, it just wasn’t a priority. She started noticing that she felt sluggish in the morning and as she puts it, “I wasn’t bouncing out of bed anymore.” She decided to make a change and hired a health coach. The changes that took place were systemic and bled into her whole life and especially business for the better.

“At first I couldn’t run the length of our street. It wasn’t until I could run my first mile I really believed that I was capable of a lot more. Of course, my son kept telling me I couldn’t so that was a motivator too. I kept pushing myself and getting good advice from my health coach not to push too much too soon. I also learned that the food I was putting into my body was holding me back. Soon I was up at 5AM for workouts and loving it and drinking protein shakes and juicing.”

Not only did Kathy find new untapped energy, at work, she became a motivating happier more effective leader. She learned that some of what she was taught in business school turned out not to be true for her. She became very interested in all of her employees well being and offered them opportunities to exercise together and motivate each other in fun creative ways. She now orders in healthy juices from a local company named Juiceelation on occasion. She provides healthy meals for all of her employees and affords them a great deal of understanding. When appropriate, she provides leniency to take unscheduled leave when it comes to personal matters to make sure they are happy employees. She believes that she would rather have them staying for over 15 years then be unhappy over a denied leave. They have much less incidence of illness and sick days. Productivity and morale is exceptionally high. She will provide facial massages on occasion as well. In return with that trust she has earned, her employees are “all in” when they are there and fully invested in making their company succeed. They are committed to service and excellence. This investment and vision in the “long game” is what she credits her success to.

kbighamThe Gobble Gobble Four Miler was her first Thanksgiving run and one she wants to hold as a tradition. Her goals include a half marathon in Miami in January and if all goes well her first marathon in 2016 Fall/Winter.

Her message she wants to share is: you can do this. You are capable of so much more than you may think that you are and starting with your own well being and health is a fantastic investment to everything you do. So all you CEOs or moms or anyone out there who think you don’t have time for taking care of yourself, you don’t have time NOT to take care of yourself.

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image002Kathy Bigham has always believed that being IN a community brings the obligation to be OF the community. Motivated by her deep love for family, she focused her charitable giving efforts on causes that serve women and children and, generally, improve people’s lives. The Boys & Girls Club, Christ Child Society, Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, Naples Alliance for Children, The Naples Players, and Baker Park, are just a few of roughly forty organizations that receive Bigham support in one way or another. Support can take the form of direct, hands-on service; sharing of Bigham Jewelers’ Conference Room for non-profit Meetings; gifts of merchandise and gift certificates for events; and donated Bigham expertise in marketing, public relations, board development and event planning/management.We are so grateful to Bigham Jewelers for their generous support of this event and their support of St. Matthew’s House.

Posted in Gobble Participants, Sponsors, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Meet Jennifer Palma from Edible Arrangements

Guest blog by Jennifer Palma

Maybe it was fate..

On September 21st 2015 will mark a ten year anniversary of the end of my life as I knew it and the beginning of a new life I never thought possible. You see on Sept 21, 2005, I lost my husband, the love of my life, to cancer having moved here from New Jersey to try to give Jim his last wish which was to retire and move to Florida.

We went back to New Jersey for the funeral services. After the funeral services we received this Huge Beautiful Fruit Bouquet from a friend, it was delicious, refreshing and it even brought a smile to my face even in my darkest hour, we all enjoyed it. I still remember Jim’s Brother Alan saying “Hey Jen you & Jimbo always wanted to open a business when you moved to Florida this would be perfect.” He took the Hangtag on the bouquet and stuck it in my purse.ea-logo (1)

I came back to Florida trying to give my teen age son & daughter some normalcy, Matthew & Michelle were devastated but we slowly started accepting and healing. I went back to work the kids back to school.   It didn’t take long to see that things were far from normal, Matthew & Michelle were still grieving and it showed in their school work and behavior and I was having a hard time keeping up with a full time job, medical bills, and nurturing my children was of the utmost importance, so I took a personal leave of absence.

As I was going through bills and papers at home, I came across the Hangtag from Edible Arrangements and I told my neighbor about it. At the time there was only one store here in Southwest Florida which was in Naples. My neighbor Kathy said why don’t we open one here in Bonita?   So we called and there was no availability in Bonita because of demographics, they did have Fort Myers location open. So we researched the company went to Discovery Day at Edible’s Headquarters and signed up for a franchise.

 

I went back to work only to see drastic changes in my office. I stayed long enough to make sure the new manager was fully trained and I resigned. I am forever grateful for all the skills that I have learned in my banking career of 25 years without it I know I wouldn’t have succeeded.

On December 2006 just before Christmas my neighbor/partner backed out on me.

My biggest challenge was financing, with a partner backing out and no income to borrow against I used my home equity credit line, depleted all my savings, sold my house and even sold my jewelry to keep cash flow with the downturn of the economy in 2008.

I truly believed in my heart that was my husband’s last gift and I was going to do it with or without her and so on June 4, 2007, I opened my first location in Fort Myers.

Once the store opened we started to get busy and everyone embraced the concept of fresh cut fruit, just like me everyone that received their fruit arrangement was wowed. It was beautiful, healthy, delicious and impressive.

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I refused to focus on the finances and joined BNI and the Chamber of Commerce to market my new business, sent hundreds of free arrangements and advertised locally. We made sure we offered a great product and excellent customer service. In 2008 with the economy downturn, I kept on going and even though a lot of businesses were shutting down we were growing in double digits.   I also met John Kubicek who owned a weight loss center in the same plaza and he had 30 years of restaurant experience. I was telling him one day how I wish I had someone that has kitchen management experience to help me with the growing pains I was experiencing in my store, he said he is very slow in his weight loss business and would love to help out, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Our love for the product and passion to do the right thing by our employees, like offering health benefits & vacation, appreciating our clients helped us grow to four stores.

In 2010, we opened our Bonita Store still no funding from banks or brokers. I used my 401K to open the store. We had so many people say why can’t you deliver to Bonita? The Naples store had that territory and they serviced it when they were slow and when they got busy they didn’t. Three years of customers complaining about the Naples store. Finally, our Bonita store opened serving Bonita Springs, Estero and North Naples; it was a hit from day 1.

In 2011 I was contacted by Edible Arrangements Corporate about the North Fort Myers location the owner was going to close the store so we purchased the store owner financing and a small loan from BankUnited. The store, staff and customers needed a lot of TLC, but now the store has more than doubled their sales.

In 2013, the opportunity came to purchase the Naples and finally for the first time we actually were able to purchase with a Loan from Bank United . What a relief! Finally, no financial worry and we get to take over a store that has tremendous potential. Our Naples location also needed a lot of TLC and now sales are up 47%.

All of this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for our communities’ support including BNI, Chamber of Commerce and our customers.

I am most grateful to my daughter Michelle who has been with me since day 1.

I am grateful for John his tremendous help in managing and nurturing our team members.

I am grateful for all the team leaders & members we have now and we had in the past, many of them come to help out on holidays we couldn’t do it without them!

 

Posted in Sponsors, Uncategorized

Meet Maura Plante

Pan-Florida Challenge Director, Maura Plante

We met Maura when she reached out for some help with the Pan-Florida Challenge. The riders all together raised $140,000 in year one and that will buy 490,000 meals for hungry kids. What inspires a person to give up their life in the corporate world to step aside, drop everything to follow a heart-felt calling? If you ask Maura she will tell you she had searched for love and happiness for 40 years, and she is listening to that call and has found it in her life now.

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“I used to volunteer and teach a class on identity to Middle School kids and mentor in the summer. You could breathe good roots into their lives.” Each summer her church, Christ Fellowship, would take 800 kids to Belle Glade, Florida to summer camps and feed and play and encourage those with nothing all day.

“We would sleep on floors, we would feed them, and put on sports camps all day long for the neighborhood kids. We saw such extreme poverty but also the strong potential in these kids. Once you see suffering and experience extreme poverty first hand – you cannot ignore it any longer. You just don’t complain any longer.

But one day a grandmother dropped off their 2.5 yr old from 8am-4pm with a beer can in their hand and on their breath and things changed for Maura. In the arms of a formerly homeless child (now adopted a son of Maura’s friend and a teenager) who she mentored – who’s tough heart cracked open in love to this broken boy that week…

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Love conquers hunger!

 

“Experiencing that first hand was indelible and right up the road! It really has been my journey with my faith though that made me do this.”

What was she doing before you ask?

“I had been laid off with a corporate job. I am an innovator and the cycle was complete for my position. I applied for big jobs and those cycles go 3-4 months to run all international products for the company I was applying for. Someone else inside the company was awarded that job and I had been volunteering at the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County and had helped here and there. Going into winter months I found I had this extra time.”

She decided she would work for them for a few months. She helped put together an event with 250 walkers called Walk the Walk to End Homelessness. She put together a flash mob to show what 180 homeless kids look like, the number of homeless kids coming in for help each week. The event raised $25,000 in 60 days.

She decided to pack meals to feed hungry kids in a non-profit helping kids in Haiti and became interested in how to make a lasting impact there, as well as for hungry kids across Florida. She teamed up with Ed Mullen, Founder of the Pan-Florida Challenge and Jim Willey to bring the ride event to life in Florida based on the effective fundraising model of the Pan-Mass Challenge.  The Pan-Mass Challenge started 39 years ago, raised $41 million in 2014 from a 190 bike ride across Massachusetts with 5,500 riders and funded over $500 million in cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since its inception.

What happens for cancer research when there aren’t strings attached to how the money can be used is that the scientists can be creative and do what they do best: imagination breeds solutions without restrictions that make breakthroughs. In contrast, much NIH and federal grant money has stipulations that are restrictive in their use.

The fundraising models that activate riders into advocates and evangelists for the cause to their network of friends and family is highly effective and generates enormous passion. In the Pan-Florida Challenge the same is true: the money raised, 100% is used very effectively and efficiently to get nutritious food directly to the hungry children who need it who may have fallen through the cracks of other forms of support.

The Pan-Florida Challenge Rider Fund is funding 490,000 meals across Florida and Haiti. In Florida, they are funding thousands of PFC Power Packs with 13 meals in a bag  inserted into local elementary school children’s backpacks on a Friday afternoon to take home and last the weekend long for kids living in hunger.  

1 out of 4 local kids in Collier, Lee & Hendry Counties are going hungry at some point this year. This is intolerable- these children are our future. How can a child thrive, learn and grow in school without food in their belly? We want to solve for hunger in kids in Southern Florida. We will keep riding our bikes until we do. We intend to end Childhood hunger, 1 meal at a  time. Until Not one is left. Not 1.

Join us! Volunteers needed. Riders wanted. Sponsors and donors invited. 

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“We intend to end Childhood hunger, 1 meal at a time. Until Not one is left. Not 1”

 

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The Pan-Florida Challenge Rider Fund is funding 490,000 meals across Florida and Haiti.

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In Florida, PFC is funding thousands of Power Packs with 13 meals in a bag inserted into local elementary school children’s backpacks on a Friday afternoon to take home and last the weekend long for kids living in hunger.

Posted in Uncategorized

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Russo

Meet Mike Russo of Less Taxing Services

Mike is one of our fantastic volunteers who helps the race go smoothly behind the scenes. His help is a great reason why the Gobble Gobble continues to be a holiday tradition for everyone at Venetian Village on Thanksgiving. When he isn’t handing you your Packet Pickup he’s preparing your tax return at his business Less Taxing Services.

Mike’s site asks: Do you love accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes? We didn’t think so.

168178_1824030804315_5273205_nMike came to us through his fiancée Marci Seamples who is the reason he moved to Naples who works for the Naples Zoo. She had participated in the Gobble Gobble event before and loved it and previously been an employee at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. Mike grew up as a tuba player and attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. As a professional Tuba player and then as a music teacher, he learned quickly that you have to be able to make and communicate complex concepts and techniques in ways that children or young adults can grasp. That skill has served him well as he has started his own business and helps explain what’s on tax returns to absolutely anyone. Mike takes the time to get to know his clients personally so that he understands how to help them best and understand what their expenses mean and how to maximize potential refunds. It’s that practical and easy way he communicates with humor and in laymen’s terms that helps him help you get all the deductions you deserve and report it correctly and accurately.

“When I first started teaching music, I didn’t know how to explain balance and blend. I had to learn to take complex things and put them into plain English. When I did the kids would figure it out and start to see their own progress. Now its amazing to me to see a client’s tax returns from a prior preparer who just didn’t take the time to get to know them well enough to understand them and avoid mistakes depriving them of a potentially higher refund.”

He is also able to do everything remotely and save you the trip to the office or via phone with the latest secure technologies via computer. If that’s not your thing he’s happy to take care to have you come meet in person.

We sure are grateful for all our volunteers and I don’t mind endorsing strongly Mike’s work at Less Taxing Services. For my own family’s return, he was thorough and able to make sense of our complete financial picture. He was very attentive and helpful and understood the complexities of all our various income, hobbies and professional responsibilities. It made it very convenient to be able to deal with everything remotely from our standpoint. The encryption methods he used were as secure as are available. His advice was also excellent in dealing with further security issues for peace of mind. Our conversations are ongoing and his council has been very helpful indeed. Mike has a great sense of humor and that made the process hassle free.

LESSTAXING

 

Posted in Volunteers

Meet DebO the Nutrition Gal

It was so nice to catch up with Debra Orringer, a Nutritionist who you may have read about at Fit Nation if you have followed her articles. My personal favorite was the building of her standup paddleboard
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“DebO” as she is affectionally called, has run the Gobble Gobble and is a big fan of how fun and laid back it is Thanksgiving morning. The fact that it’s so non-intimidating is great for her in her field as she’s always trying to encourage better fitness and nutrition for her clients and when she is speaking at conferences.

Debra was drawn to the field by her own struggles with weight issues.

“I was always chubby, but not necessarily overweight growing up. After I got my first part time job, I started gaining weight. By the time I got to college, I put on 50 lbs my first year and by my last year in college at age 21 I had put on 100 lbs. I was depressed.” That was when Debra had the epiphany after working in upstate NY cleaning out dorm rooms to turn over and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and didn’t like what she saw and said,“I’m done.”

That low self-image after looking at other girls in sports bras and shorts and seeing herself in heavy sweat pants prompted her seeing a doctor. In the next 8 months, she lost the first 50 pounds. She eventually lost the entire 100 pounds back that she had gained.

Later on while she was at the gym she noticed a sign advertising “so you want to be an aerobics instructor..” She decided to attend a class as she enjoyed teaching fitness. This eventually ended up drawing her into clinical exercise physiology and low and behold she found herself as a new fitness pro teaching. That still wasn’t enough. She started going to conferences eventually and gave presentations about proper nutrition. One of her specialties was on how to make sure your balance of PH equilibrium was in order. Fast forward to a 10-year contract of working with NASA at Kennedy Space Center working with astronauts on getting them to their peak nutrition and health.

After that contract expired and budget cuts to the space program ended her term there, she looked on a map for somewhere on the coast of Florida to move to. Her finger ended up along the coast of Southwest Florida in sunny Naples. She started her position at Tiburon Golf Club part time and as of this year in January she has left and has decided to go full time into her own business. She described her clients as ranging the gamut. She learned to find creative ways to try and align people’s goals with what they are able to give up and what they aren’t.

Like many that suffer depression or self-esteem issues at some point in their lives, Debra went through some dark patches. At one point, she said, “I didn’t get out of bed for about a year.” She had some intellectual property that she wasn’t given proper credit for. There were unkept promises and her concept and brainchild was developed into a successful project without her and it was devastating at the time.

“I talk to everybody—everyone has some kind of struggle—they aren’t going to change their lives—I try and listen to people and try and find a way to help them. It’s not always me that can help—so I will direct them to someone that fits them if I can.” In her case, she recommends something as simple as self-esteem affirmations, “just wake up and name one thing you are grateful for every day.” That eventually gave Debra the clarity she needed to reset her own future. Her mental and physical health were rejuvenated by just getting back out there.

Deb has worked with an organic supplement company that she is passionate about as well and it’s one she’s made great relationships and friendships through. She can provide more detail from her website or email and you can read more about Debra here

Heard a lot of debate about the nutritional value of eggs lately? Watch this short video and DebO’s take

In her spare time, she enjoys coaching kid’s swimming ages 6-12 years old. When she chats with mothers they typically start asking how to incorporate nutrition for their growing athlete into their regimen. We have such fantastic resources in Naples for everyone to make healthy choices and enjoy better lifestyles. Be sure and get to know DebO the nutritionist. You’ll be glad you did!

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