BRADENTON BEACH – The Drift In, its patrons, the local business community and some local musicians raised $4,665 for Wildlife Inc. during Saturday’s Drift In Rock & Blues Festival.
The money raised will assist the Bradenton Beach-based education and rehabilitation center in its ongoing animal rescue efforts.
Drift In Manager Doreen Flynn helped organize the Nov. 2 music festival and fundraiser that took place in the parking lot, at the tiki bar and inside the establishment on Bridge Street.
The fundraising efforts included raffles and a silent auction featuring items donated by local businesses, a lotto board, food sales, cash donations and more.
“This benefit was arranged to benefit Ed and Gail Straight and the work they do at Wildlife Inc. Ed and Gail do so much for the community,” Flynn said. “Right now, there’s an issue with the laughing gulls. The Rod & Reel Pier gave me a donation because they’ve had to call Ed about seagulls with fishing hooks in them.
“I’ve had many benefits over the years, and I cannot believe how many donations I’ve received for this one. They’ve come from all over the Island and Cortez, not just Bradenton Beach,” Flynn said.
Wildlife Inc. co-founder Ed Straight attended the festival and sat under the Wildlife Inc. tent with the four rescued owls he brought with him. While there, he and Wildlife Inc. volunteer Cindy Ellis chatted with a steady stream of supporters who approached the tent.
“This is fantastic. We’re happy to be here,” Straight said.
“We do most of the rehabbing for Manatee County. We take in all types of injured, orphaned or sick wildlife. Our objective is to rehabilitate them and put them back into the wild. Some of the birds here had injuries where they just couldn’t be released, so we use them for education,” he said.
“We do around 3,000 calls a year and each year is busier than the year before. Any help like this we get is really helpful to us. We’re going to do some improvements to our place. We’ve been doing this for 32 years and the fencing in the front is almost 30 years old. It’s time to start replacing some things and this money is going to help us do that,” Straight said.
Flynn credited “Horatio Bullwinkle” (real name not given) for assembling the musical lineup that performed for free and featured Tommy Balbo & The Collective, Dos Macs with special guest Steve Arvey and Concrete Edgar.
“He spent his time, money and efforts putting the bands together and he built the stage for us. He deserves a lot of credit,” Flynn said of the humble man who did not want his real name used.
Before taking to the stage, Arvey said, “I’m donating my time because wildlife is so important. Us humans are taking over everything with our development and nobody cares about the wildlife anymore. We’ve got to keep supporting what was here before us.”
On Sunday, Flynn said, “Ed was very happy and very grateful.”