High Rollin’ on the Beach


    The Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) for the Beach Elementary School hosts the 2nd annual “High Rollin’ on The Beach” Gaming Fundraiser to benefit the Elementary School students on Saturday, February 23, on the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club campus at 175 Sterling Avenue from 6 to 10 p.m. This year’s theme is “Lucky Hearts.”

    “While the fundraiser is at the Woman’s Club, it is actually under a huge tent on the grounds,” said spokesperson Kristen Love. “This year the tent is twice as big, allowing us to increase attendance from 150 to 250 people, provide more gaming tables, and have all the auction prizes and items there for everyone to see. We did this because, after last year’s event, everyone raved about how much fun they had, and how they want to bring friends and neighbors, so we reserved the bigger tent.”

    “High Rollin’” is a gaming experience where guests play with Fun Money, explained Kristen. “This is a great event for our local residents and seasonal visitors. Gamers receive raffle tickets as their winnings to place into baskets to attempt to win fantastic prizes, as well as participating in live and silent auctions for other terrific gift packages. We will have blackjack, poker, roulette, craps tables, slot machines, and of course our home-grown ‘Wheel of Fortune!’ This year, we will double our blackjack tables, with more poker tables as well, so you can play individually or in the Poker Tournament.”

    2018 Beach School PTO Co-Presidents Shannon Orlandini & Kristen Love with showgirls at the 2018 event.

    Returning this year is the unexpected but wildly popular “Wheel of Fortune!” “For $20, you spin the wheel in an attempt to win gift cards from businesses and attractions from all over the island and beyond,” Kristen said, “with each prize worth at least $20 and most much more. We included the ‘Wheel’ last year almost as a lark, but everyone loved it, to the point that guests were attaching their business cards to it to offer prizes right on the spot!”

    Beach Dressy & Lucky Hearts

    Kristen described the evening’s dress code as “‘Beach Dressy,’ where ladies often wear cocktail dresses and flip-flops, so anything in your closet is perfect; just be comfortable and have fun! Our theme is ‘Lucky Hearts,’ so you can go with that, and we have a drink theme to match, so there will be a lot of red. We will have a Cash Bar with beer, wine, and the usual assortment of mixed cocktails to complement our signature item.”

    “High Rollin’” features two ticket price brackets: VIP Tables and individual tickets. There are a limited number of VIP Tables at $600 for 8 people, and these include free champagne, dedicated cocktail waitresses, and valet parking in addition to the remainder of the activities. Individual tickets are $50-per-person, with food courtesy of The Dog House, musical entertainment, Cash Bar, and $10,000 in Fun Money. Purchase tickets on-line at Highrollinonthebeach.eventsmart.com; for questions, email HighRollin@fmbpto.org.

    There are corporate sponsorships as well: Jack ($500), Queen ($1,500), King ($2,500), and Ace ($5,000), Kristen explained. “So far, we have the Fort Myers Beach Kiwanis Club at the Ace level; Distinctive Rentals and Nanny Poppinz at King, along with Fiesta Tents and The Dog House at that same level through donated services; Diversified Yacht Services, The Whale, and the Torgerson Family at Queen; and ChrisTel Construction and Veronique Pasqual at Jack. We have already exceeded our sponsorships from last year and will still accept others through the day of the fundraiser, but to appear in the promotional material, contact us by January 31.”

    Gamers play with Fun Money, receiving as their winnings, raffle tickets to attempt to win distinctive prizes. In addition to those, there will be silent auction items and gift baskets donated by local businesses, with several live auction packages. Among the highlights are a Blue Moon Pizza Truck Personal Pizza Party, a 3-portrait session package from Cason Photography, a custom-made T-shirt quilt from Kristen’s own No Greater Love Quilts, and Vivie’s Boutique Mobile Fashion Truck Home Shopping Spree for you and your friends.

    Enrichment & Technology

    Proceeds from “High Rollin’” will benefit the enrichment, technology and educational needs of the Beach Elementary School. “Enrichment is a principle component for the PTO,” offered Kristen. “We try to cover all the bases under enrichment, including technology-wise. The Beach Elementary School teachers tell the PTO what they need for additional educational programs in the classrooms, to help students learn practical skills, and technology today is the heart of education, so we try to maximize what the PTO does to benefit the school.”

    high rollin, fundraiser, bartenders
    Volunteer bartenders Heidi & Bruiser Jungwirth kept players well hydrated last year.

    “High Rollin’” is the only PTO fundraiser dedicated solely to the Beach Elementary School. “There are several groups that donate money to the school,” Kristen explained, “and a new program we’ll participate in this year as one of the Non-Profits, is the ‘Putt-&-Pub Crawl’ on January 19 through our hole partnership with The Salty Crab. We however have a strict policy that the kids do not do any fundraising by themselves, and the Lee County School District only appropriates so much money, and that is on a per-student basis, and since we have so few pupils, we do not receive anywhere near that of bigger schools, and that is what makes this night so crucial. The PTO attempts to provide our children every opportunity for enrichment as any other Lee County school, including after-school programs, making them free-of-charge when possible.”

    The inaugural “High Rollin’” last year exceeded the PTO’s fundraising goal by contributing almost $24,000 to the Beach Elementary School. “This year we hope to be able to contribute at least $30,000 for the clubs and activities,” Kristen related, “as the Elementary School has a long list of needs, so the PTO pushes as hard as we can in our fundraising efforts to meet those needs.”

    The Great Misconception

    Kristen said the PTO chose to host another Game Night fundraiser because “the concept and evening were so popular last year and we received nothing but positive feedback, with everyone staying right to the end and not really wanting to leave, to just keep playing games and talking to friends, not wanting it to end! Last year, we were ready for any potential pushback we might receive about hosting a gaming theme to benefit the Elementary School, but were pleasantly surprised that did not happen, hearing only positives from everyone about the unique concept. People like that we only use Fun Money and the gaming company who runs it for us were delightful, making everyone feel so comfortable, including teaching those unfamiliar with the games how to play. It was a huge success and a no-brainer that we would return to the concept for this year.”

    For her, “the most fun is probably the gaming, while sitting with your friends and enjoying the evening. It reminded me of when we were all younger and playing games with your buddies, and the fact you are helping the Elementary School all at the same time is priceless! While we want everyone to have fun, remember that you are contributing to the education of the kids on the beach, as their educational needs continue to grow, and this is the best forum to support that.”

    The great misconception about the Beach Elementary School, Kristen offered, “is that it is full of millionaire kids from millionaire families, but nothing is further from the truth – the vast majority of students’ parents are the waiters and waitresses and bartenders who keep our island economy humming, but who all suffered devastating financial issues this past year over our water quality issues. We realize this affected island business owners just as bad, so we are doubly grateful that they continue to support the PTO with sponsorships and donations, as it was a tough summer for most islanders.”

    Kristen and husband, Matt, the Fire Chief of the FMB Fire Department, have their oldest son in the Beach Elementary School: “We feel the greatest thing about Beach Elementary is that each student gets so much personal attention; it is almost like a private school education, because the student population is so small, the staff not only knows every child’s name but their individual educational needs. The best example I can provide is our own 2nd grader, who was a middle-of-the-road kid, and we were fine with that. He comes to Beach Elementary as a kindergartener, and just takes off, and is now doing things educationally we never imagined! The staff discovered something in him and paid attention to that and nurtured it and he has just grown and blossomed and now loves school and reads two grades above his level, and we are not sure that would happen in a larger school where it is a numbers game. What is even better is we hear similar stories from other parents all the time!”

    Kristen encourages Islanders to get their tickets early and attend High Rollin’ on the Beach. “The support Fort Myers Beach continues to provide to the Beach Elementary School really shows the heart of our community.”


    Gary Mooney