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Linda and Ken Sumner at an art exhibit of work by clients with Multiple Sclerosis


Essential services for those living with MS in our community

Support this cause at the Feb. 24 Roaring Twenties Speakeasy Casino Night

by Kay Jasso, Multiple Sclerosis Center of Southwest Florida CEO

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating condition that affects many local residents, making mobility a challenge for them and their families. As the condition progresses, many people with MS find themselves restricted to wheelchairs, which can make simple tasks difficult. The MS Center of Southwest Florida understands these challenges and offers a grant program for Sit to Stand Lifts, which can help alleviate the burden on families. This device allows a family member of any strength to transfer their loved one from wheelchair to bed or bathtub, making it possible for families to stay together in their home instead of loved ones being forced into assisted living facilities.


To learn more about this program and how it has transformed lives, watch the video testimonial on our website.


“Lisa was diagnosed with MS in 2007, so we brought her to live with us. Once we found the MS Center, it changed our lives, really. They provided this hoist that we couldn't find in any of the medical supply places. And it's been a Godsend.” says Elizabeth, caregiver for her daughter, Lisa.

At the MS Center, we understand that multiple sclerosis affects more than just the body. That's why our mission is to provide comprehensive care for the mind and spirit of those struggling with chronic symptoms. As part of this commitment, we are proud to offer the Linda & Ken Sumner Art Center, a unique and effective program that provides art classes specifically designed for individuals with mobility and motor control challenges.

In addition to the classroom in Bonita Springs, the Center also provides art classes at six locations throughout Southwest Florida, including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, East Lee County, north Naples and south Naples. At each of these MS Community Centers, clients can participate in a full day of activities that include group support sessions, exercise or yoga, art classes and a communal lunch for social opportunities.


The MS Center is a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization that has served the community since 2000. It is not a chapter of a national organization and only serves Southwest Florida. The Center has experienced exponential growth in the last few years, growing from serving 50 people with MS in 2015 to more than 500 today. 


Funding for these services is all obtained locally as well, with an annual gala major fundraiser. This year’s gala, themed “Roaring Twenties Speakeasy Casino Night,” is being held Feb. 24 at the beautiful Vineyards Country Club in Naples. It’s a festive and fun evening of live music, dancing, fine dining, auctions and casino games, all for a good cause. Sponsorships and tickets are still available at or call 239-319-0904 for more information.


Your support will help the MS Center continue to provide essential services and programs to those living with MS in our community. We look forward to seeing you there!

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About the Author

Before coming to Florida in 2002, Kay Jasso was a successful business professional in the consumer products industry in Chicago, where she held management positions at PepsiCo/Quaker Oats and at Unilever/Best Foods. Jasso began her career as a nonprofit professional at the Collier Community Foundation. She went on to serve in various capacities at other nonprofit organizations before becoming the executive director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center in 2015, where she was recently promoted to CEO.

If You Go

What: Roaring Twenties Speakeasy Casino Night 


When: Feb. 24, 5 p.m.  |  Where: Vineyards Country Club, Naples, 400 Vineyards Blvd., Naples

Information: or 239-319-0904

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Essential services for those living with MS in our community


A Weekend of Wonder

Two events to benefit Wonder Gardens Feb. 3 and 4

by Sarah Williamson

Wonder Gardens has reenvisioned the attraction’s annual fundraising event, creating WOW, a Weekend of Wonder, offering two events with the goal of raising money to support the Bonita Springs nonprofit.


The first event, Evening of Wonderment, is planned for Saturday, Feb. 3 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Like the annual signature event formerly known as Enchanted, the event will be held in a tent at the garden featuring beautiful garden lighting, wine and hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and an update on plans for a reimagined Wonder Gardens, followed by a live auction and fund-a-need appeal.


On Sunday, Feb. 4 from 1 to 4:30 p.m., guests at Splash of Jazz can enjoy live jazz by Brandon Robertson and student jazz groups from Florida Gulf Coast University, a cash bar and a garden stroll. Wonder Gardens will be closed to visitors on Feb. 3 and 4 due to the events.

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The beautifully lit Wonder Gardens

“As we continue to envision improvements to the historic Wonder Gardens, we want to offer many opportunities for the community to support our vision,” said Neil Anderson, Wonder Gardens executive director. “We continue to create enhancements that showcase the Wonder Gardens as an oasis of Old Florida, while developing new exciting exhibits, continuing top-notch guest experiences and achieving zoological accreditation, all with the goal of keeping it as an asset to the community.”

Planning the two days of events was undertaken by Wonder Gardens staff and the Weekend of Wonder Steering Committee, which includes Candice Sebring-Kelber, Chair; Kevin Steffanni and Diane Torrisi Co-Chairs; Lesley Colantoni, Diane Ewing, Amy Bright Gilhuly, Dorothy Guigon, Jacke McCurdy, Connie McIntosh, Steve McIntosh, Nancy Peckham, Marjorie Rubacky and Eileen Tasso.

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Wonder Gardens staff will share ambassador animals with guests.

The steering committee and many others support Wonder Gardens, a charitable zoological park and botanical garden in Bonita Springs, which is home to rescued birds and reptiles and is nestled among sprawling banyan trees and plantings. While preserving the best of this site’s 86-year history, the nonprofit cares for rescued, rehabilitated and non-releasable animals, is upgrading wildlife enclosures and growing the botanical beauty of the property, all while delivering education programs and events and further engaging the community to enjoy this jewel in historic downtown Bonita Springs.


Wonder Gardens is one of the few remaining cornerstones of Old Florida, an enduring symbol of the region's history and a resource for learning about the environment and wildlife. It does not receive taxpayer funding. Improvements, maintenance, staff and animal care are paid for by admissions, memberships, giftshop sales, fundraisers and donations.

About the Author

Sarah Williamson is the retail and communications manager for Wonder Gardens, where she began working in October 2020 as a guest services associate.

If You Go

What: Weekend of Wonder, two events to benefit Wonder Gardens


When: Evening of Wonderment is Saturday, Feb. 3 from 6 to 9:30 p.m.; Splash of Jazz is Sunday, Feb. 4 from 1 to 4:30 p.m.


Where: Wonder Gardens, 27180 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs


Information: Tickets for Evening of Wonderment start at $250. Tickets for Splash of Jazz are $50. Ticket information is available at


A Weekend of Wonder
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