A bevy of Franklin County beauties have bared it all for charity once again.
On Sept. 7, the Oyster City Brewery hosted the debut of the 2017 Franklin Needs Calendar. Appearing on the high-gloss pages are 23 gorgeous ladies.
Dayle Flint, Katie Juno, Jessica Sparks, Lauren Luberto, Krista Miller shelter behind teeny beach umbrellas on the cover.
Shelly Shepard, Courtney Amison and Carrie Jones pay tribute to firefighters in January. Tana Kendrick is cool in the shade in February. Allison Griffith maps things out in March.
Sam Fortunas is, of course, on the beach in April. Heather Rash is a fisherman’s wet dream in May. Ladonna Ingram flags down traffic in June.
Christina Pateritsas munches melon in July. Cassie Gary looks right at home in August. Jessica Davis is the girl down the street in September.
Samantha Elliott and her sister Miranda Ard pay tribute to their late mother Ida Elliott in October. In November Kara Landiss and Sandy Dixon enjoy the island breezes, and in December Amy Price, Kim Wren and Megan Lamb give new meaning to the term mermaid.
Three thousand of the calendars have been printed. Flint, Franklin Needs treasurer, said 79 sold at the opening. Another 500 are currently on the shelves of local stores (see the information box).
Erica Turner, of Erica Renae Portraiture, said her photography work, spread out in 13 sessions from March through May, was based largely on ideas that stemmed from the women’s imaginations. The photos were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III digital camera at various locations around the county, a few on the beach on St. George Island, a couple in Apalachicola, including at the airport, and one in studio.
“I went to the sessions and helped, but they did a lot of the ideas on their own,” she said. “I basically showed up and took the pictures and retouched them.
“I just polished the image. I made sure the lighting was correct, the tones were good. I never made anybody skinnier; the most I did was remove a blemish,” said Turner. “They wanted natural and that’s what we wanted to stick with, real women. We didn’t want to make them look fake.
“It’s the biggest project I’ve been part of so far and it’s also the proudest,” said Turner. “I was excited to support the women of Franklin county.”
One key reason for Turner’s enthusiasm, for which she waived a large portion of her fee in support of the cause, was because of her own personal experience. Born with a heart condition, the former Erica Sapp, now 26, has had multiple heart surgeries, including open heart surgery and a pacemaker implant.
“Me being sick for most of my life, I like supporting people who are in tough situations, especially people who are going through tough times health-wise,” she said. “Knowing you have a community that supports you helps with the coping.
“I know what it’s like especially the medical expenses,” said Turner. “I was mostly excited to be a part of such a great fundraiser.”
Franklin Needs, now in its ninth year of service, originated in 2008, when it became clear that nearly half of Franklin County women diagnosed with breast cancer had already experienced its spread.
About that time, a group of six women at a Panhandle Players cast party agreed to bare all, if necessary, to fight breast cancer in the county, and soon six more local women enlisted, including three who were cancer survivors.
Of this group, four women came together and formed Franklin Needs, Inc., a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. The original board members were Elaine Kozlowsky, president; June Dosik, vice president; Maryann Durrer, treasurer; and Ann Siculiano, secretary.
With the departure of Dosik, Siculiano assumed the vice presidency, Glynda Ratliff became secretary and Liz Sisung was added as a member-at-large.
The group, which became known as “The Calendar Girls,” had a goal to raise money to provide free mammograms to county women with no health insurance. They insisted everyone involved would be a volunteer and that all the funds raised would be spent on Franklin County women. Their major source of funding would be a “tasteful” calendar featuring Franklin County women.
With the help of volunteer photographer Sue Bull, the 2009 calendar, which included all county events, was published in mid-2008. Local merchants throughout the county sold the calendar and in addition, if there was a festival, event or any type of gathering going on in the county, you could be sure there would be a Calendar Girl selling calendars. A cabaret was also held at the Coombs Armory in October, and as a result of their first effort: the women managed to raise over $50,000.
While the 2013 calendar was being sold, a group of young and energetic Franklin County women wanted to aid the cause. The group, which would eventually become the new board, held the first Island Pink Out at Eddie Teach’s on St. George Island, which resulted in a large donation made to The Calendar Girls. They held the second Island Pink Out in October 2014.
The third Island Pink Out will be held at Paddy’s Raw Bar, 240 East Third Street on St. George Island, on Sunday, Oct. 9 beginning at 6 p.m. There will be food, live music, a live and silent auction.
Since their inception, The Calendar Girls have paid for 314 mammograms. In addition, they have covered the cost of addition testing which in some cases approached $3,000. In all, they have spent a total of $47,237 on mammograms and additional procedures. This includes the nickel from a little boy at the Seafood Festival and the one dollar from a high school student who said his aunt had died of breast cancer.