Sawgrass Nature Center’s Annual Gala Returns Promoting Animal Rescue and Education Programs

Allan Rose, Executive Director of Sawgrass Nature Center, Dr. Vanessa Shields-Fiore, Gala Chair; and Tom Fiore, Board Member. Photo courtesy Don West.

By: Jen Russon

Many Coral Springs homes border canals that are typically surrounded by dense tropical foliage and wildlife, and when residents encounter a wounded or motherless animal in this environment, their first thought is to call the Sawgrass Nature Center.

Each year, residents in Northwest Broward County bring approximately 700 animals into their wildlife hospital, but nursing them back to health isn’t the only thing the center does. They also educate thousands of students about South Florida wildlife and how to preserve it.

While this work could not be done without volunteers, the non-profit Sawgrass Nature Center and Wildlife Hospital relies on donations and fundraising to keep going, and on November 10,  will host its 21st Annual Gala event.

“The 2018 theme is Moonlight Magic. It’s going to be a lot of fun. In addition to the silent auction we’ve always done, we will have an illusionist this year,” said Heather Nelson, volunteer coordinator at the center.

Nelson added that she and the center’s Executive Director, Allan Rose, are looking forward to good turnout at this year’s event at the Coral Springs Marriott Hotel. He said the Nature Center has grown to include an apiary and encourages the community to come check it out as soon as possible.

“There is always something happening here,” said Rose. “We have so many goals to meet.”

Rose added that if Broward County residents are looking for a tax-deductible opportunity that helps with the center’s invaluable work, they should consider becoming a center benefactor, patron or sponsor.

Each charitable affiliation comes with a certain number of complimentary gala tickets. The cocktail chic event includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, four-star dinner and dessert. Kristi Krueger, an award-winning Local 10 anchor will give the keynote.

The gala is being chaired by Dr. Vanessa Shields-Fiore, who sits on the center’s board of directors and owns New Life Chiropractor and Wellness Center in Plantation.

Shields-Fiore has said that the center continues to do good work. They saved 407 animals by this summer; a dramatic increase from last year. The animals included more than 20 different species.

“We are in desperate need to raise funds for this wonderful hidden treasure right here in our backyard,” Fiore wrote on Facebook, where many updates about rescued and rehabilitated animals at the center are posted.

The center is a recipient of the Governor’s Point of Light Award, and not only treats ill, injured and orphaned animals, but also educates the public about the natural world, being a responsible pet owner, and what to do when you find a wild animal. They offer wildlife camps for children, and on-site and off-site programming.

If you would like to support the center by coming out for the annual gala, tickets can be purchased at $100 each, or $85 each for center members. The event will be held at 11775 Heron Bay Boulevard on Saturday, November 10th, beginning at 6 p.m. Purchase your tickets here.

Jen Russon

Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.