BRADENTON BEACH – Kyle Shell’s Saturday, Dec. 28 fundraising celebration of life raised $6,074 to help his 17-year-old daughter, Kaya Sage Shell, attend college in hopes of becoming a doctor.
Additional donations given directly to Kyle Shell’s mom, Gayden Shell, brought the day’s fundraising total to $8,074.
On Dec. 20, Bunny & Pirates Bazaar owners Elizabeth Shore and Jeffrey O’Connell hosted a benefit at their Cortez establishment that raised $1,000 for Kaya Shell.
As of Thursday, Jan. 2, the “In Memory of Kyle Shell” GoFundMe page raised $1,465.
All totaled, the extended Anna Maria Island community has raised $10,539 for Kaya’s future college education.
Kyle Shell, 42, passed away at his Bradenton Beach home on Dec. 3 as a result of heart failure.
Planned and coordinated by Sarah Santos, Courtney McGough, Chase Purtill and others, the Saturday, Dec. 28 celebration of life and fundraiser took place at the Sports Lounge and the Drift In in Bradenton Beach.
Local businesses donated the multitude of gift cards, gift certificates, gift baskets, cruise packages and more that were on display inside the Sports Lounge as part of the silent auction and raffles.
There was also a 50/50 drawing and several people who bought tickets wrote Kyle Shell on their tickets instead of their own names. This resulted in the late Kyle Shell winning the $1,500 drawing that was donated to his daughter.
Kyle Shell’s former Tangled Mangos bandmate, Mike Cunningham, won the Kyle Shell-inspired gift basket donated by Sports Lounge and filled with two bottles of Fireball whiskey, a bottle of Evan Williams bourbon, four cans of Diet Coke and a pack of Parliament cigarettes.
Inside the Drift In, folks lined up and gladly handed volunteer Trey Powers $5 in exchange for a plate of food from the bountiful buffet donated and prepared by several local restaurants. The food offerings included Thai snapper nuggets, shrimp cocktail, chicken wings, black bean soup, seafood gumbo, pulled pork, pasta, brats, chili, salads and more.
Outside in the Drift In parking lot, Dos-Macs members Mike McConnell and Mack Black provided the musical entertainment, joined by special guests Mike Cunningham on percussion and Rich Dugan and Steve Paradis on guitars and vocals.
Kaya Shell traveled from Colorado with her mom, Mariah Hofmeister, to attend the fundraiser. They were joined by several other family members who also traveled to Anna Maria Island.
“It’s good to see how many people loved my dad and how many lives he impacted,” Kaya Shell said during the final hour of the afternoon event.
At the time, it was estimated approximately $5,000 had already been raised for her.
“Wow, that’s awesome,” Kaya said.
A few minutes later, Gayden Shell said, “Seeing this done for my son is the most humbling thing I’ve ever seen. I’m thankful to everyone that’s come out. Kaya’s going to be able to go to college and that’s what we did this for. This means as much to her and her family as it does to me.”
On Sunday, Sarah Santos said, “I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support shown for Kyle. Our tight-knit community truly comes together when called upon. Thank you to all the local businesses for their generous donations, thanks to the volunteers and thanks to all who came out to support Kyle and his family. It really was a true testament to the loved man he was.”
Ashes and flowers
At 10 a.m. that morning, 28 friends and family members gathered along the bay at the southeast end of Coquina Beach. Assembled in a circle and holding hands, they shared a silent prayer and spoken memories of Kyle Shell.
The group then walked under the Longboat Pass Bridge and gathered along the shoreline where Gayden Shell entered Longboat Pass to spread some of her son’s ashes while Kaya and others tossed flowers petals into the water.