4th Annual Lights Out Gala Raises $96,000 for Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Event Serves as Reminder of “Lights Out” Campaign During Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s premiere fundraiser, the Fourth Annual Lights Out Gala, was held on February 25th and raised $96,000 for the non-profit organization while celebrating the March 1st start of sea turtle nesting season on Florida’s east coast. Named for the worldwide Lights Out campaign which urges people to adopt a lights out policy near the beach during nesting season, the evening served as an important reminder of the plight of the threatened and endangered sea turtles that Loggerhead Marinelife Center  (LMC) researches and rehabilitates throughout the year. Chaired by Susan Johnson and Beth Neuhoff, both of Jupiter, the gala honored Nathaniel and Alita Reed for their shared lifelong dedication to environmental conservation. Mr. Reed, who says marrying Alita was the best thing he ever did, surprised his wife and childhood neighbor with the honor that evening because she has always shied from recognition. The gala’s honorary chairs were Gordon and Patricia Gray of Jupiter.

Over 200 of the organization’s supporters entered the gala through LMC’s front doors, only to be enchanted by what came next. The inside immediately revealed aquariums active with sea life, setting the tone for the evening’s Under the Sea Soiree. With glasses of champagne in hand, guests were greeted next by a live mermaid posed on top of a shimmering palate.  Partygoers enjoyed cocktails and a Kettle One vodka luge in the center’s FPL Turtle Yard, while the beauty and delicacy of the center’s current sea turtle patients captivated onlookers. Guests also spoke with LMC biologists and toured through the center’s on-site Gordon & Patricia Gray Veterinary Hospital.

After cocktails, guests moved to a tent draped with aqua colored fabrics while dinner prepared by Bonefish Grill was served on tables decorated with tall marine-themed centerpieces. A brief program emceed by Tim Luke of HGTV’s Cash in the Attic followed. LMC President & C.O.O. David McClymont emphasized the center’s mission to promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. Joining the center in this mission, clothing company vineyard vines® announced a LMC tie as the newest feature in the company’s Tied to a Cause Collection. Guests pledging additional minimum donations of $250.00 came home with the tie that evening. Shepherd Paul (“Shep”) Murray, co-founder of vineyard vines®, attended the gala to show his support.

After the debut of the new tie, partygoers danced to the beat of a DJ. The gala’s ultimate raffle drawing was saved for last. Featuring a seven-day cruise to any worldwide destination by Regent Seven Seas Cruises; a $2,500 vineyard vines® shopping spree; and a $500 “Dining Around” package courtesy of Palm Beach Illustrated, the raffle served as a major fundraiser during the evening.

Corporations sponsoring the annual event included AW Property Co., Bonefish Grill, Fite Shavell & Associates, Florida Power & Light, Ketel One, Loggerhead Club and Marina, Palm Beach Illustrated, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Saks Fifth Avenue – Palm Beach Gardens, Swoozie’s, Tequesta Agency, Tiffany & Co. Palm Beach Gardens, and Vineyard Vines. Individual sponsors were Tom and Barbara Bascetta, Anja Burns, Robert Chlebek, Gordon and Patricia Gray, Ray and Tarry Graziotto, Lara and John Killgore, Brian and Alice Waxman, and the event’s co-chairs Susan Johnson and Beth Neuhoff.

To view pictures from the evening, click here.

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About Loggerhead Marinelife Center:

Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC), a non-profit organization, is committed to the conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems through public education, research and rehabilitation with a focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The center features an on-site campus hospital, learning exhibits and aquariums. Situated on the world’s most important sea turtle nesting beach, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is open daily and plays host to over 200,000 visitors each year. For more information, visit www.marinelife.org or call 561-627-8280.

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