Fundraising efforts are underway as four contestants vie for the ultimate prize of a heavy Big Kahuna trophy. It’s all for a good cause, as funds raised through March 13 will go to support the Good Health Clinic and its mission to provide health care to low-income and uninsured residents in the Keys. Contestants were nominated and invited to participate in Big Kahuna based on their relationship with the community, upstanding citizenship and capacity to raise money. The fundraising frenzy usually brings in 20 percent to 25 percent of the clinic’s operating funds. When March 16 comes, a Big Kahuna will be crowed at Islander Resort.
Thomas Morrison is medical director at Mariners Hospital Emergency Department and Fishermen’s Hospital. Raised in the south Miami area, he joined the Merchant Marine at 16 but chose to go to college. He attended undergraduate and graduate school at a medical school in Ohio. He then went to New Orleans for surgical internship /residency. Morrison returned to Miami for a second internship and residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami Family Medicine Program. He was hospitalist at Jackson South Community Hospital and ER doctor at South Miami and Homestead hospitals.
“When Kate Banick asked me to become a ‘Kahuna’ I was honored to accept,” Morrison said. “I have personally seen Good Health Clinic help and save patients as they come through my emergency departments. Health care is unaffordable on the best of days. When you are a server, clerk, bartender, landscaper and assistant chef — health insurance isn’t available. Eventually they will need help; this is where the Good Health Clinic steps in.”
On Saturday, Feb. 2, there will be a Casino Night fundraiser at Lions Club, located at 5 Homestead Ave., in Key Largo. Doors open at 6 p.m. with games starting at 6:30 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m. Prizes will be announced at 9:45 p.m.Tickets are $20 and include food made by Sea Creatures Café and games featuring roulette, blackjack, craps and slots. Dealers will be on hand to teach people how to play. The bar will be available with a donation. For tickets to Casino Night, email [email protected] or message Thomas Morrison on Facebook. All proceeds from the event go to support the Good Health Clinic.
Alina Davis has eagerly entered the Big Kahuna contest and has enlisted past Big Kahuna winner Capt. Skip Bradeen as her campaign manager. Davis is a Realtor in the Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate Co.’s Islamorada office and loves her job. “There’s nothing better than helping people achieve their dreams of owning a home in the Keys or helping them sell so that they can enjoy their next adventure,” she said. Raising money for charitable causes is not new for Davis; she is involved with the Coldwell Banker Schmitt Charitable Foundation and the Herman Lucerne Memorial Fishing Tournament. “I’m looking forward to this contest and to the friendly competition. It’s a big win for the community no matter who wins,” Davis said. “But that trophy would look great at our office. We are coordinating some fun events including Paint Night to bring more attention to the great work done by the Good Health Clinic, which is the only free clinic providing essential medical care to uninsured and low-income residents in the Keys.”
Walt Stephens is the director of safety loss control and procurement at Florida Keys Electric Cooperative (FKEC). He is originally from Kentucky, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in safety engineering, and has worked in the electric utility industry since 1993. He has worked at a rural electric cooperative since 1998 where he has been responsible for safety, loss control, risk management and procurement. Stephens is certified by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Associations as a loss control professional. He has been a resident of Islamorada and employed at FKEC for three years. His hobbies include fishing, boating and golf.
Stephens is a member of the Upper Keys Rotary Club and a graduate of Leadership Monroe County. When asked to help raise funds for the Good Health Clinic, he was more than willing. “The Good Health Clinic is a great asset to our community by improving and at times saving lives through health care with diagnosis, treatment and prevention.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 9 at Islamorada Beer, there will be a corn hole tournament and party. Registration begins at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $20. Party includes 50/50s, food, prize drawings and raffle.
Keys Weekly is vying for Big Kahuna with the intent to bring that mighty fine and mighty heavy trophy currently sitting at Florida Keys Electric Cooperative to its Tavernier office. The Weekly team includes the brains behind the operation, Jason Koler; the Energizer Bunny in Nola Acker; the second-best candidate when the Weekly hired him, Jim McCarthy; the photography guru Doug Finger, and “Go Fish!” Capt. Matt Bellinger. When not working, McCarthy pretends to lift at Mariners and drinks all the Bud Light at Mar Bar, Nola is that Avenger who teleports from Islamorada and Key Largo, Doug can be found snapping all the good action and Matt can be found on the water or on the radio doing fish reports or calling out terrible drivers. As for Jason, he can be found causing a ruckus on the Weekly golf cart outside the homes of Rob Stober and Capt. Bryan.
“Winning that Big Kahuna trophy is something we’ve always dreamed about,” the Keys Weekly team said. “Not are we only looking forward to coming out on top, but we’re also excited to be raising funds to support the Good Health Clinic’s mission.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 9, the Weekly will have a lionfish fry in partnership with Coastal Realty and Islamorada Dive Center. The event will be held at Coastal Realty from 1 to 4 p.m. Islamorada Beer Company will be donating the beer to the function. There will be a raffle for a golf cart thanks to Riva. Lionfish jewelry will also be at the event for purchase. All proceeds go to benefit the Good Health Clinic.