Forty Carrots Family Center CEO Michelle Kapreilian was feeling the usual emotions about the annual 2022 Wine, Women & Shoes signature luncheon — excitement, appreciation, maybe some exhaustion — but had to admit she also felt a little nervous this year.
The event has always drawn a large, passionate (and sometimes rowdy) crowd together to support the organization's programs for children and families in need. But the pandemic put a pause on the signature luncheon for two years, and Kapreilian couldn't help but wonder if it would affect turnout for the 2022 outing.
She needn't have worried. Hundreds of Forty Carrots supporters filled The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota for the fundraiser's long-awaited return on Nov. 18.
"You never know (beforehand), but we've had so many people come back (for Wine, Women & Shoes)," Kapreilian said. "We've also had new people to the community come today. Introducing Forty Carrots to them has been wonderful."
The organization's many, many supporters filled the hotel space for the morning's mingling and shopping section, which had a number of businesses and pop-up vendors selling jewelry, bags and other stylish accessories. The luncheon's signature Sole Men were on hand to offer champagne wine and take selfies with guests.
Eventually, the crowd filled into the ballroom for the event's program and lunch.
Co-chairwomen Melissa Tomasso and Julie Weintraub took to the stage to thank the audience while Sole Men poured glasses of champagne for those in the crowd.
Finally, it was time for the fashion show. Men and women took to the stage wearing funkadelic designs from Tweeds Custom Suits and L. Boutique respectively to the cheers of the crowd.
The hosts later handed out awards for various shoe designs and creations, with Sole Man John Coates winning this year's King of Sole award for the largest amount of wine sold in support of Forty Carrots.
Kapreilian said the paddle raise alone raised more than $300,000 for Forty Carrots.
"We can use these funds for where we have holes," Kapreilian said. "...Right now it's our mental health services and parenting education (programs). We increased (clients and staff) for both those programs this year ... and this will definitely help."
The day ended with an after party that had dozens of guests getting down on the dance floor.