■ BY SUE ERWIN
If you enjoy playing casino games, there’s a fundraising event happening on April 28 on Don Pedro Island that you won’t want to miss.
The Bocilla Islands Conservancy is planning a casino night “Betting on Paradise” event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. Proceeds will benefit conservation efforts.
Nearly three years ago, Barbara DeYulio and Linda Cotherman founded The Bocilla Islands Conservancy, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to protect green space and natural vegetation on the Bocilla Island chain.
The organization works to conserve Don Pedro Island, Knight Island, Little Gasparilla Island and Thornton Key.
Through acquisition of land and conservation easements, sensitive habitat will be preserved and protected, helping to keep an island’s ecosystem in balance.
“We’ve been focusing on removing invasive plants and adding native plants,” said DeYulio, BICI’s president.
Volunteers have created brochures on how new residents to the island can learn about what plants will help maximize green space.
There are also plans to add walking trails around Don Pedro Island with signs explaining the kinds of plants visitors will see.
Currently, the Conservancy has acquired four parcels, one of which they purchased.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in March to celebrate a parcel of donated land on Don Pedro Island.
Another celebration was held recently to recognize the purchase of property to preserve natural habitat on Knight Island.
“We’ve received two grants, and we’ve been getting donations from some wonderful individuals,” DeYulio said. “And the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has been mentoring us on how to get additional grants.”
The Conservancy held a ribbon-cutting dedication ceremony on Knight Island in March to celebrate a new parcel of donated conservation land for the island community. Frank and Brenda Zody donated the property.
The organization held “Preserving Paradise,” the biggest fundraiser of the year at the Englewood YMCA. More than 200 people attended.
Four Boca Grande businesses helped out in sponsoring the event: Grande Aire, Italiano Insurance, 3rd Street Bar and Bistro, and Kappy’s Karts.
The organization is hoping to gain more support from Boca Grande at the next event, scheduled for November 10, 2018.
“Our mission is to preserve the intracoastal islands, and I believe any person who lives on an island in this area shares this same goal,” Cotherman said.
Donations and sponsorships are still being sought for the upcoming casino night fundraiser.
The event will consist of multiple gaming tables and slot machines, a casual buffet, beverage bar and prize table.
“We hired a professional casino company, and the dealers will help teach guests how to play the games in a fun, no-pressure environment,” DeYulio said. “Winners can redeem chips for prizes. We have some amazing prizes, including a laptop, gift certificates from high-end restaurants and a service contract from Grande Aire.”
The event will be held at a resident’s home on Don Pedro Island.
Tickets are $100 and can be purchased online or by calling (303) 570-7710.
The organization will provide transportation to the event for free. Find out the details at the time of ticket purchase.
All proceeds will benefit the Conservancy.
For more information, visit bocillaislandsconservancy.org.