Social Scene May 2022

Mermaid Nyla Humphries, along with other participants, helped promote ways to protect and preserve our natural waterways during the Florida SpringsFest event at Silver Springs State Park in early March.

Florida SpringsFest
Photos by Richard Rossetto

Exhibits, vendors and even mermaids were on hand March 5th and 6th to talk about ways to promote, preserve and protect our natural springs. The event was organized by Silver Springs State Park, Cape Leisure and the Friends of Silver Springs State Park.

Mermaid Juls, Julia Hendrix; DEP Park
Ranger Amber Hatcher & her nieces; and
the Mahi Mermaid, Jessica Griggs-Meyer.

Marian Rizzo and Robert Knight
Chevy Fritz with young visitors
Clearwater Marine Rescue Aquarium exhibitors

Voices of PACE Luncheon
Photos by Corgi Photo

The annual luncheon to benefit the Pace Center for Girls— Marion was held February 23rd and featured moving testimonials from alumnae and current students as well as a presentation by State Attorney Bill Gladson.

Bill Gladson
PACE students

Carole Savage-Hagans

International Women’s Day Celebration
Photos by Bruce Ackerman

Ollin Women International hosted a celebration March 8th to pay tribute to women in education, including Kim Burt, Simone Campbell, Loukeitha Daymon, Ronda Fox, Roseann Fricks, Jennifer Fryns, Mercie Dee Hagins, Lori Manresa, Ruth Reed, Julie Shealy, Julie Sieg, Edna Simmons and Judi Zanetti.

Stephanie Hill-Palmer, Loretta Jenkins and Audrietta Izlar
Barbara Fitos, Edna Simmons and Manal Fakhoury
Beth McCall, Pam Escarcega, Angela Boone and Jessica McCune
Lori Manresa and her daughter, Arielle





Expansion Grand Opening
Photos by Bruce Ackerman

All of the additions and renovations at the Reilly Arts Center were in the spotlight during a celebration on March 9th that included walk-throughs of the new classrooms, NOMA Black Box and Frank DeLuca Grand Lobby.

Clint Lewis, Angie Lewis, Jeannine Plummer and A.J. Merrill
Matthew Wardell, Frank DeLuca and Angela Grace
Lauren Debick, Kaitlyn Butler and Adam Volpe
Pamela Calero Wardell, Martha Steward
and R.J. Jenkins




HUGS Fundraiser
Photos courtesy of HUGS

HUGS Charities Inc. hosted its 12th annual HUGS Fundraiser on March 31st, in memory of David “Duder” Tuck, a community member and volunteer observer for the Marion County Sheriff ’s Office Aviation Unit and for whom the K-9 Duder is named.

Amy Roberts and Hayley Rogers
Linda Rains and Kay Rains
Lori Cotton and Steve Tweedle
Amber Toole Sanford and Barbara Ross
Dustin Tuck, Whitney Griffith, Dr. Vipul Patel and Danielle Hampy

Ignite Luncheon
Photos by Maven Photo + Film

More than 200 attendees helped raise money on March 10th for Project Hope, a nonprofit that supports homeless women and their children, and honored businessman and philanthropist Frank DeLuca. On April 13th, $62,000 was donated to Project Hope.

Jeanne Henningsen and Ben Marciano
Back row left to right: Lina Piedrahita, Jeanne Henningsen, Kathryn
Beecher, Melinda Freeman, Andrea Bailey, Beth Nelson, Dr. Jennifer
Fryns. Front row left to right: Stephanie Burns, Christie Casey, Dr. Manal
Fakhoury, Jennifer Hallermeier, Karen Hatch
Frank DeLuca
Check donation photo courtesy of Ignite.


Ocala welcomes our Olympic Champions
Hometown heroes showered with honors in Ocala.
By Susan Smiley-Height | Photos by Bruce Ackerman

Joey Mantia, Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe

Erin Jackson has fond memories of being a “nerdy” student and Skate Mania “rink rat.” Brittany Bowe was “always in the gym” when her father was the basketball coach for Belleview High School. Joey Mantia recalls strapping on inline skates and taking “to the streets of Ocala at 2am with no traffic.”

Erin Jackson

The long-track speed skating Olympians were back in town in March for a slew of celebrations in honor of Jackson becoming the first Black American woman to win a Winter Olympic gold medal in an individual event and Bowe and Mantia winning bronze medals during the games in Beijing. Jackson initially failed to make the cut in her signature event, but Bowe gave up her spot in the 500-meter race so her friend could compete.

The three also have long lists of wins in world championships and other competitions. They live and train in Utah, but it all started in Ocala.

Mantia, Bowe and Jackson graduated from Vanguard High School, Trinity Catholic High and Forest High School, respectively.

Erin Jackson, Kathy Judkins, Joey Mantia and Brittany Bowe

Among the local events were visits to their alma maters, a ceremony at the Howard Academy Community Center to induct Jackson into the Black History Museum of Marion County, a luncheon with students at the College of Central Florida (CF) and a parade.

Mary Sue Rich, the first Black female city council member in Ocala, told Jackson, “I understand the importance of being the first in your fi eld and the responsibility that carries. Do not let the gravity of that title weigh you down, but understand that it will inspire a new generation of athletes who will embrace your legacy. You have broken barriers and placed a spotlight on our city. We hope you feel the love and support of this community, all three of you.”

Whitfield Jenkins, Eric Cummings, Yvonne Hayes Hinson, Joey Mantia, Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe

“Thank you so much,” Jackson said. “Being here and seeing everyone come out in support and all the presentations, it’s been amazing. It’s an honor.”

At the college, Bowe, Jackson and Mantia were each seated with middle, high school and CF students and fielded questions from the young men and women in a quiet manner before nursing student Dominique Gandiongco led an open Q&A session.

Francine Julius Edwards, on the planning committee for the welcome home events, said she wanted to include the young Ocalans in the luncheon because, “We want to have our children inspired to do better in school and it’s important to have mentors.”

Joshua Moore, a senior at Vanguard High, sat with Bowe.

“I got to learn about Brittany and that we all are going through the same situations at school and we all have a specific goal we are trying to achieve,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

As for what inspires the Olympians, Bowe offered: “Being victorious is one of the best feelings in the world but being here in Ocala sharing it with so many people is what makes it really special.”

Erin Jackson, Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia
Erin Jackson, Joey Mantia and Brittany Bowe
Eric Cummings and Erin Jackson
Davida Randolph, Narvella Haynes and Erin Jackson
Posted in Insider, Social Scene

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