More than 170 people traveled Italy via The Sanctuary Sunday night for An Evening in Italy to benefit the PURRE Water Coalition.
The event which board member Dan Schuyler called the "party of the century" drew laughter, merriment and funds.
An Evening Italy raised $40,000, said Emilie Alfino, administrator for PURRE.
The Evening in Italy PURRE fundraiser drew a crowd of supporters and revelers.
"It exceeded all of our expectations," she said.
Money will be used to fund the ongoing efforts to keep pollutants out of the regions waters.
According to Alfino guests at the event enjoyed the music of tenor Maurice LoMonaco and pianist Woody Brubaker, silent and live auctions, and an unusual reverse raffle for a trip to Italy including a one-week stay at a unique apartment in Todi, Umbria.
Bob Dratler of Naples won the Italy trip after buying the last available raffle ticket in a live auction for $1,500. That ticket was for a one-in-three chance of winning except Bob was lucky enough to already have a ticket left in the drawing, giving him a two-in-three chance against the third ticket held by Karen Aulino.
The reverse raffle went on throughout the evening, involving everyone in the excitement. Everyone was given one complimentary ticket upon arrival. There were five rounds throughout the night when tickets were pulled, each time leaving fewer names in the raffle. If your ticket was pulled, you were eliminated hence the name "reverse" raffle. People could buy back into the drawing or buy extra tickets between rounds, costing more each time as the odds improve. The last two rounds present a one-in-seven, and then a one-in-three chance of winning, so those tickets are sold in a live auction.
Auctioneers Marty Harrity and Dick Muench got the crowd on its feet and laughing as they sold a case of Italian wine (winner: Chip Roach), a handcrafted 18K gold necklace (winner: Ken Monahan), and a home-cooked dinner for eight by the Valiquette family (winner: Robert Van Tassel).
The event was sponsored by Captivans Walter and Emily Mead and John and Donna Schubert; Sanibelians Vince and Marilyn Conoscenti, Gordon and Linda Coons, Bob and Ann Gillespie, and Stephen and Deborah Klug; Lily & Co. Jewelry Gallery; Sandcastle Construction Co.; Sanibel Captiva Community Bank; and Sanibel/Captiva Trust Co.
The committee that put the evening together included: Emilie Alfino, Karen Aulino, Steve Brown of The Sanctuary, Jeff Burns, Marilyn Conoscenti, Sally Hanser, Nancy McNeill, Linda Mondelli, Julie O'Neill, Colleen Quenzel, Dan Schuyler, Pumfey Steffens, and Maureen Valiquette.
For more information about the PURRE Water Coalition visit www.purre.org.
(PURRE staff contributed to the story.)