Turtle Watch Wednesday raises funds, spirits

Turtle Watch Wednesday a big success
The Third Annual Turtle Watch Wednesday at Hurricane Hanks in Holmes Beach was a big success. - Jason Schaffer | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – After a year off due to COVID-19, the community flocked to the Third Annual Turtle Watch Wednesday fundraising event on Sept. 29 at Hurricane Hanks to show their support for Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring’s mission.

The not-for-profit group monitors sea turtle and shorebird nesting on AMI, keeping tabs on population trends.

“We collect scientific data for the scientists in the state of Florida to analyze and see how we’re doing with the turtles,” Director Suzi Fox said. “We do a lot, but in essence, we are data collectors.”

The event has been held at Hurricane Hanks since its inception in 2018, but was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first year, they raised $3,000, with a large increase to $13,000 in 2019 and a grand total of $16,000 at last week’s event. Money was raised from a silent auction of more than 80 items donated by local artists and businesses as well as T-shirt sales, a 50-50 raffle, a $1 donation from each food and beverage sale at Hurricane Hanks during the event and a live auction hosted by Bob Slicker that raised thousands of additional dollars. 

- Jason Schaffer | Sun
Turtle Watch Wednesday attendees shop silent auction items. – Jason Schaffer | Sun

“This year we came up with a VIP package. It’s a $75 donation, but it’s a 100% donation to Turtle Watch; just another way to add to the fundraising,” said Brian Mathae, owner of Hurricane Hanks. “This organization and the turtles need all the money they can get. This is truly an Anna Maria Island community event. It’s small businesses supporting it by donating all these prizes and the community coming out that makes it successful.” 

Proceeds from the Turtle Watch Wednesday event will help purchase a much-needed ATV to help the volunteers move around the beach more efficiently. 

The event was well-orchestrated with free parking provided by nearby Hancock Whitney Bank, food and drinks thanks to Hurricane Hanks and great live music by Mike Sales.

Sponsors included A Paradise Realty, Mike Sales Entertainment, J n’J Graphics, Florida Underwater Sports, CabanUp, Harbor Lane Court Vacation Rentals and The Anna Maria Island Sun.

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