VENICE, Fla. — More than 400 people gathered in the Venice Community Center on Dec. 13 for the Loveland Center’s 8th Annual Loveland Barbecue, the 54-year-old nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
Guests enjoyed a night of delicious food specially prepared by master chefs Frank Peacock and Brent Pinkerton, with appetizers from Snook Haven and desserts from Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Les McCurdy and Ken Sons led the program and energetic live auctions, which was filled with jokes and jests.
Guests were treated to melodious holiday songs from the nine-member Loveland Chorus, including “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Jingle Bells,” “Feliz Navidad” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” There was also a special appearance by Santa Claus.
“We have grown from a center to a village,” said Daniela Koci, president and CEO of the Loveland Center, to the crowd at the annual event. “We serve close to 200 individuals now and have expanded our offerings with educational, vocational, residential and recreational programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. These individuals are thriving, active and involved in this community.”
One of those students, Patrick Burke, a Loveland Village student and Special Olympian, received a standing ovation after his hilarious stand-up comedy act with Les McCurdy.
Silent auctions were open for bidding and Creative HeARTs jewelry and mosaics were available for sale. Proceeds support the students and residents at Loveland Village.
In attendance were former Florida Senator and Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, Florida Representative Julio Gonzalez and Venice Mayor John Holic.
About Loveland Center
Established in 1962, the Loveland Center strives to help adults with developmental disabilities live their lives to the fullest. The nonprofit was founded by a group of parents who sought to provide a productive and safe place for adults with developmental disabilities. Loveland Center provides educational programs and vocational training for individuals with developmental disabilities. For more information, visit www.LovelandCenter.org or call 941.493.0016.