By MEGHAN McCOY
More than 250 people gathered at the Olde Fish House Marina Saturday afternoon to see if they held the winning raffle ticket for the 2012 Harley Davidson Sportster XL 1200.
Kyle Potts, who won and donated the 2012 Harley Davidson Sportster XL 1200 motorcycle to the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project, shook hands with Tina Bush of Island Floors & Interiors after the winning ticket was announced at the Olde Fish House Marina Saturday.
"At one count we had more than 275 people present, which is great," said Tina Bush of Island Floors & Interiors, the coordinator of the event. "Throughout the day we had between 300-350 people attend the event."
Kyle Potts, who won the motorcycle at the Flatt's Invitational Redfish Challenge at the beginning of September, decided to donate his prize to the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project to raise more money for the organization.
"I'm glad we could donate the bike from TowBoat US for a good cause," Potts said Saturday after the winning name was drawn.
Bush said the raffle was a huge success.
Greg Decapio, who bought one of the last raffle tickets before the 5:15 p.m. drawing at the Olde Fish House Marina Saturday, was very excited to win his first ever big prize.
"I just came up here 15 minutes ago," he said Saturday afternoon.
Bush said the group has nearly reached its goal for the first barge full for the old Matlacha Bridge span.
The Matlacha Bridge Reef Project received a bid last month for $18,000 for the first barge load and $15,000 for any additional barge load to transport portions of the old Matlacha Bridge to the Novac Reef.
"We are working on our second barge full," she said. "The reef is going to definitely happen, it is just a matter of determining how many barge fulls."
Bush said she is very excited about how much support the effort has received from the community.
"I want to thank the community for their support and their continued support," she said.
Bush said although the opening of the new bridge has been delayed, it has given them more time to raise additional funds to turn a larger portion of the bridge into an artificial reef.
"It gives us a positive spin on the bridge delay," she said. "We have one good thing that is coming out of it."
Although it is yet to be determined if another benefit will be held for the organization, the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project is still seeking donations to continue its efforts to raise funds for more barges full of pieces of the old Matlacha Bridge.
"We are looking for some corporate sponsors to step up," Bush said. "We are kind of hoping we have an angel in the background to give us that final push for our second barge full."
Individuals can continue to make donations through Lee Reefs, a 501c3 non-profit organization, which is geared towards building and raising funds for artificial reefs in Lee County. Those who want to donate to the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project can go to LeeReefs.org and hit the donate button to help the cause.
Donations can also be sent to the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project, 5261 Pine Island Road, N.W., or by calling Bush at 239-244-4434.
"We are going to make it happen," Bush said.
The idea of turning the old Matlacha Bridge into an artificial reef came to fruition the first week of July and soon turned into an nonprofit organization - the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project - because Rod Mazzoli of Island Floors Inc. & Interiors wanted to preserve this piece of the island's history.