2019 Save Our Seabirds Soiree Recap
The Save Our Seabirds Sunset Soiree is an annual fundraising event supporting the Save Our Seabirds organization. Save Our Seabirds’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release sick and injured wild birds while educating the community about preventing injuries and preserving habitats. Each year, they respond to over 4,000 calls about birds in distress. Birds that have been treated but are unable to be returned to the wild are given permanent homes in the Wild Bird Learning Center across from Mote Marine Laboratory. Xplor, Inc. has been involved with the planning and execution of the soiree for several years running.
Planning for the soiree begins many months before the event. The Xplor team of Anju, Kathleen, and Allison meet four times with members of the board of Save Our Seabirds to discuss and plan the event. There was a lot to cover—everything from center pieces to decorations, silent and live auction items to music and entertainment, to the event schedule and more.
The seventh annual Save Our Seabirds Soiree was held on Thursday, March 28th at Michael’s on the Bay in Sarasota, FL. We welcomed our 200 guests to begin with an outdoor cocktail reception in the area where the silent auction items were displayed.
Guests were able to meet rescued birds, including red-tailed hawk, Muad’dib, and a barred owl, Nova, along with their handlers.
A steel drum player provided background music while guests perused items for sale at the pop up shop.
Save Our Seabird branded merchandise, including North Face fleece jackets, Welly water bottles, and peacock plush stuffed animals were available for purchase, as well as professional prints of birds flying over the Sarasota area.
The area was also lined with bird-inspired art created by local students, who submitted their artwork in a contest earlier in the year, and the winners’ artwork was displayed on banner flags throughout the event. These flags will now be on display indefinitely at Save Our Seabirds headquarters.
The guests had about an hour to mingle before Save Our Seabirds CEO David Piston and the crew rallied all of the guests to the central area by the water for a surprise bird release! A rescued and rehabilitated egret was released into the wild right in front of all of the guests as sun was beginning to set. It was the first time a live release has taken place during the soiree and made for an exhilarating and memorable experience for everyone present.
Guests were brought inside to begin the meal while watching a live “Speed Painter.” The painter drew upside down on a large canvas before flipping his painting around to reveal an amazing depiction of the John Ringling Causeway (a bridge in Sarasota) at sunset with a pelican flying overhead. It was auctioned off right as he finished and sold for $2,200!
After dinner, the live auction began for items such a private Indian dinner for 10 people prepared in the winner’s home; a three-night getaway to Napa Valley; a private tour of the Center for Great Apes; and a hand-carved pelican statue. David Piston showed a powerful video of the birds effected by Red Tide, and how much Save our Seabirds did to help those birds survive. It was an incredibly moving video and allowed for the audience to really engage with what SOS is doing. The video was immediately followed by the Taking Flight Challenge, which is a paddle raise donation to help support SOS operations. The incredibly generous Sarasota community raised over $100K during the paddle raise!
The event was an overwhelming success, raising over $150,000 to help protect wild birds in the area. SOS organizers were ecstatic, saying:
“Many thanks to everyone who poured their hearts and souls into making this our greatest success ever, not only financially, but in terms of goodwill and positive vibes toward SOS and our fragile feathered friends. This all bodes very well for the future!” David Piston, Save Our Seabirds CEO
“Fantastic! Hooray for us! I so clearly remember our first Soiree in 2012 – we netted $7,500. We’ve come a long way!” Jim Smith
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the success of this event!
The Xplor, Inc. team is honored to be a part of this event to raise funds for an important and worthy cause. We are already looking forward to the eighth annual event in 2020!