Skip to main content
Black Tie and Tales
Black Tie Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 3 years ago

Ringling College Library Association delivers tall order to Visible Men Academy

Shaquille O'Neal visits the VMA students, young men help out at Selah Freedom's annual show and local hotel helps nonprofits.
by: Kayleigh Omang Contributor
Shaquille O'Neal with VMA students. Photo by Robert Pope.

A 7-foot-1 surprise

In between lectures, Shaquille O’Neal made time to give the students at Visible Men Academy a big surprise.

The former NBA All Star was in town Jan. 16 for the Ringling College Library Association’s Town Hall Lecture Series. Lecture series Chairwoman Mitzie Henson and RCLA set up for Shaq to visit the boys at their campus. The students range in age from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Shaq spoke to the boys about the importance of school and how he attributes education to many of his successes. Shaq told guests at the Town Hall Lecture Series that he not only holds a master’s degree, but also his doctorate.

The students were also able to take photos with him, compare foot sizes — Shaq wears a size 23 — and pepper him with questions.

All on board

Maximilian Fisher, CEO and President Elizabeth Melendez Fisher and Leopold Fisher. Photo by Cliff Roles.

Selah Freedom CEO and President Elizabeth Melendez Fisher raised her boys while creating the nonprofit, so the mission of the organization did not go unnoticed. 

In the past few years her sons, along with the sons of Selah Freedom Event Planner Krista Varady and Donna Koffman, have been helping out at the annual Selah Freedom fashion show, A New Beginnings Fashion Event. Maximilian and Leopold Fisher, Colin and Jake Varady and Xavier and Harrison Koffman, took on full volunteer roles Jan. 20 at Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota. 

The young men welcomed guests and escorted models.

“I love that it is a family effort,” Elizabeth says. “It will be fun to see the impact that has on their lives and the integrity they walk in.”

A hotel that helps

Even with all the events in this town, there’s always room for more.

Nicole Dolan, Joanna Strader, Misha Fabick, Sarah Wertheimer, Jenna Leigh Fabick, Dagmara Gruszka, Lissa Murphy, Nikki Logan-Curran and Brenna Wilhm. Courtesy photo.

The Sarasota Modern, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, opened Dec. 11 in downtown Sarasota and has opened its doors to the nonprofit sector as well. Once a month, The Sarasota Modern’s Juice Bar becomes a philanthropic platform for a local organization to host a fundraiser. Employees invite guests to come learn about the nonprofit and update supporters on what’s new. Part of the proceeds from the evening also go back to the nonprofit.

On Jan. 15, the first Non-Profit Night benefited Embracing Our Differences. Upcoming is Jewish Family and Children’s Service and The Mark Wandall Foundation.


Get it in writing ... If you have tickets to the Library Foundation for Sarasota County’s annual Author Luncheon on Feb. 11, write this down. Due to no fault of the organization, the location has been moved to the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium and will now be catered by Michael’s On East. The event is sold out, so the organization is asking that unused seats be reported to Kim Noyes at 228-6274. A well-deserved honor ... The 2019 National Human Relations Award Dinner with the American Jewish Committee West Coast Florida has a couple honorees this year. On March 31 at Michael’s On East, AJC will be honoring Tom and Sherry Koski. The co-chairs for the evening are Larry and Debbie Haspel, Lois Stulberg and Larry and Pat Thompson. Tickets will be on sale soon. Call AJC Regional Director Brian Lipton at 365-4955.






Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.

I’m Kayleigh, Black Tie reporter. My cats and I moved here from North Dakota and I earned degrees from Minnesota State Moorhead in photojournalism and entrepreneurship. You’ll find me covering all the big fundraisers in town. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 330.

See All Articles by Kayleigh

Related Stories