Monday, Feb. 18, representatives from ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance and Design, Michael’s On East and the Observer Media Group set out to surprise the winners of the Design and Dine $10,000 Backyard Makeover contest.
After parking discretely around the corner, the group crept to the front door of winners, Kevin and Missy Cooper. Balloons and champagne in hand, the crew surprised the couple with the announcement.
“I didn’t really believe it at first,” says Missy Cooper. “It caught me off guard. All I knew was that we were supposed to be doing the final interview — I was absolutely not expecting that we’d been selected. It was quite a shock.”
The contest sought submissions from contestants that explained why they deserved to receive the $10,000 makeover from ArtisTree and celebration soirée from Michael’s On East. After narrowing entries to three finalists at the beginning of the month, ArtisTree asked the public to vote for the winner.
“Our original hope was to build awareness for our brand,” says Debra Morrow, vice president of marketing for ArtisTree. “How it evolved was beyond our wildest dreams. We were looking for meaningful stories in the entries, and we were really taken with all of our finalists’ submissions.”
Missy Cooper works as an advertising media planner at the Ringling Museum of Art, and Kevin Cooper is executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. After work, Kevin Cooper spends his nights taking online classes to earn his MBA from Florida State University. The couple says that with their busy schedules, sprucing up the backyard had remained their final major house project after Kevin graduates in May.
“Now, we can cross that off of our list,” says Missy Cooper. “The only thing on our horizon now is a chance to hang out. After work, there will be no more homework, no more projects around the house — it’s been so long since we’ve had that. We’ll finally be able to come home and just enjoy where we live.”
“It’s unbelievable,” adds Kevin Cooper. “I haven’t been able to fully wrap my head around it yet.”
The Coopers will meet with ArtisTree designers, who will work with the couple to design a backyard that meets their personal taste and needs. Michael’s On East will cater a celebration soirée for 20 guests and design a signature cocktail to toast the completed backyard. The landscaping company also announced that it would provide each runner up with a $1,200 tree installation for their participation in the contest.
“Sarasota continues to be a town that we appreciate more and more as time goes on,” says Missy Cooper. “The amount of community support makes me feel really good about where we live. There are businesses that care about the community and about giving back. It’s just another check on the list of reasons we’re grateful we moved here in the first place.”