Part 1

Gobble Gobble Race Director Matthew Sonneborn talks about how creating a green event inspired him ultimately to couple an electric vehicle with a whole house solar installation at home and cut his budget significantly. Turns out it is not only environmentally responsible but has firm financial advantages. See how he managed to cut bills by $6650 a year finding other areas too.


When I first started hearing about the waste that our sport has, to try and manage it hit me like a club over the head. There were a few resources about the challenges in undertaking greening massive events on the internet, like rock concerts and sporting events. Think how much energy goes into parking all of those cars and their commute to and from the event. On top of that, consider all of the waste disposal and the power it takes to give everyone the experience they are looking for and on and on. Then in a 50,000 plus running event, think of providing water to all the participants along the route and disposing efficiently and responsibly all the cups.
Litter on race day
Online resources began appearing and several strategies began being implemented to the Gobble Gobble over the years. We had possibly one of the first bike valets at an event locally. We tried going completely cup-free (we now use donated eco-cups we recycle for re-use in other materials in the race as well as offering cup-free stations). We have used solar power for the sound and finish area. Additionally, we employ a socially conscious company using greener fabrics in their line of clothing for shirts. Water alone is an incredible rabbit hole. We found ways to eliminate plastic bottles completely.
All that had inspired me so much. It was time to see what could be done at home. All this gas we use in cars, and electricity in cooling our homes, powering our devices and appliances is excessive. The turning point for me personally last year came when I had an expensive repair forthcoming on my Hybrid vehicle. It was time to consider new options. Working at the Naples Philharmonic gave me the opportunity to see the show room over at Tesla from day one at Waterside Shops. I didn’t know enough about Teslas but had ridden in one a few times. It was indelible to have done so. Tesla is a game changer. 


I set about my research. I had heard about the Model 3 being their newest line and affordability was the main factor they were pushing. Having only heard of the $100K+ market of cars, I was excited to hear about the possibility of someday potentially owning one at the $35K entry level price point. 
I read about all the different competitors and test drove a Leaf, a Leaf Plus, looked at both the Bolt and now discontinued Volt. Though the competition had decent incentives, the cool factor was not even close. There are other manufacturers that simply can’t be bought or maintained in FL so those were simply not options or too expensive. From a practical standpoint, long distance touring was off the table in those vehicles in comparison and my tall son couldn’t enjoy the rear seat’s lack of room in those. He loves the Tesla’s. Tesla has a vast network of Superchargers. If you want to tour the country in another manufacturer’s electric vehicle, good luck. It is possible for the patient and adventurous, but in a Tesla it’s extremely possible and merely takes a little planning. There are circumstances to overcome at times, but in 15 minutes you can put about 150-180 miles back into the vehicle. That gets you to a supercharger stations no problem in most cases. Stretch your legs, enjoy a Netflix or a Youtube (yes even youtube live tv or Hulu) stream while you charge or go get lunch or take a walk nearby. In contrast to a pump, I hate that wasted time of pulling in and standing to fill. You get used to a different experience owning your own filling station at home and plugging in overnight while you sleep too.

Let me fully disclose firstly: I am not a car guy—I haven’t needed or wanted the latest cool muscle car or new fangled hip brand of vehicle…..ever

This car is a bit trendy admittedly, but it was motivated by ecological incentives. In the Model 3, I enjoy driving it more than any other car hands down. I really enjoy NOT driving it perhaps the most. On my commute to teach at FGCU, I will typically get on I75 and get behind a vehicle and engage autopilot. “I don’t trust the car to drive” you say…really? I was skeptical at first a bit myself. Let me ask you this. Do you use cruise control? Do you trust it? It has a very sophisticated cruise control that is also adaptive. That means the satellite is providing live images of the surrounding vehicles and the car is adjusting the car length distance from another you tell it to. Once the car is in a single lane, it merely has to see the stripes of the lane with its many cameras and maintains you in that given lane and brakes or maintains speed safely. The level of stress this alleviates is hard to describe. Sure, my hands are there at any time to take over. I can certainly relax a bit without steering and maintaining speed. Rolling a dial on the steering wheel controls volume on one side and speed of the cruise control on the other. A quick roll of either of those keeps autopilot engaged every 15-20 seconds or I get a less than subtle warning.  Another question. Do you take flights? They engage autopilot all the time. You need to be ready to take over, but in one sense, being freed from those responsibilities gives me the opportunity to be more aware.
In traffic where it is stop and go, when a car in front of you moves it follows at that speed then slows when it does and stops. No stressful commute in the hassles of highway traffic jams. Just enjoy the tunes or surf the web on the browser in the background if stopped a bit. Have I mentioned the instant 0-60 acceleration of an electric vehicle? Yeah that power is breathtaking as well and silent. I love it when you are merging on the highway, and there is someone merging behind you starting to creep up speeding thinking they are going to pass you and grab the position you are in to enter the highway. The mere thought of going faster and you are looking in your rearview mirror at the muscle car who just spent $1 of gas trying to pass you is 1/4 mile behind you. 
So that is the Tesla. Not only do I have zero emissions (remember I put the sun in my car) but I can’t wait to drive it EVERY time I get in this car. It never wears off. I have never enjoyed getting into a car to go to a grocery store, for instance, like this. I will go a little further for things and more often without thought now because there is no fuel charge. That leads me to the next arm. Whole house solar power, which gives me my own personal zero emissions fueling station at home.
How is this about saving money you ask? Read pt 2 Solar and more to find out.
If you are so inclined to purchase a Tesla, here is my referral code that will give 1000 free Supercharger miles:
TESLA referral code:

pt 2 Solar and more.


It seemed that my roof had some damage. I was curious if perhaps it was normal wear or an insurance claim was possible. It turned out that insurance did cover my roof and I found a company able to couple the cost of solar and roof that does both called Southern Sky.  Couple that with the 30% tax credit! *By 2020 that credit will scale down to 26%. My roof has a perfect unencumbered southern exposure.
Now that I have solar power, for the next 25-30 years, my power bills should be gone. The first two months have proved that to be true. I only owe $9.56 to FPL in tax and activation. It is called Net Metering. In this process, you total the amount of power FPL delivers to your home and deduct the amount they receive from you. The NET of the two amounts is what you owe. I am able to presently exceed the amount of power sent to FPL that I consume. I have my own power plant at home now and pour the sun generated electricity into my vehicle. I “bank” excess power to the next month much like rollover minutes so in months where it is cloudy and hot using excess AC or rainy. The months you collect lots of sun without running the air conditioner as much, cover the less plentiful cloudy, rainy, and hot ones. 
The amount of joy that seeing the sun come up in the morning gives me knowing that it is activating our little residential power plant is so worth it. Coupling the car and the solar, our break even for the solar should be about 5 years, though that won’t completely pay for the outlay of the Tesla. That said, the resale value of the Tesla is maintained so high in 5 years, that comparably when all factors are weighed, such as savings from repairs and maintenance and gas (yeah just tires and washer fluid) make it competitive to most any car I would have purchased. 


This all lead me and inspired me to take stock of other areas of scaling back. My 2 year contract on DirectTV bundled with ATT was about to expire. There were no incentives and my TV bill was about to double. Nope. I had heard about cutting the cord for years now and so many have done it. For the television, we looked at lots of providers like Hulu, Sling etc. Already having Amazon Prime and Netflix is a good start for streaming video. We opted for YoutubeTV for the local channel availability and for the unlimited cloud DVR storage (that made it unnecessary to install HD antenna or several). We purchased 3 affordable Roku devices that plug into the HDMI slots on the TV (not necessary if you have a current smart tv or apple tv etc already). Done. Sure it is $50/month and some cable packages are less, but I can stream on my laptop or phone as well as TV’s and with Youtube it is optimized for mobile. They offer 6 accounts on a family membership and 3 can be used at once. Click the “+ add to library” and the series or your favorite teams are always recorded whenever a game or show is available from now on. I can watch a football game in 30-40 mins this way. The taxes and fees kill you with cable tv otherwise. It looks like you are paying less but you aren’t usually with cable or until they increase your rates. There isn’t a channel I miss yet and I can find everything easier than I ever have by setting up my own order and customizing channels.


We ditched Centurylink home phone and internet (25MB speed) for an affordable Xfinity much faster service (200MB+ speed). That went from $130/month to $62/month. Bundling a VOIP home phone and Internet was cheaper than just having Internet. We have also bundled Xfinity Mobile and we are saving about $130 a month on our cell phone bills. We have gone from $190 with ATT to $60 on Xfinity. We won’t pay only $60 every month, but we realized that 3 of us could get by sharing 10GB last month. If we want more data some months we can pay a little more and if we all want unlimited every month, $135 is the most we would pay for 3. There are potentially less expensive plans, but for our circumstance, you can at the end of the billing cycle switch to what you are using and for instance, share 3GB with two family members at $30 then have another family member at $45 for unlimited at $75 for the month. 
How so cheap? Companies like ATT and Verizon have too many towers to profit from. Like having hotels without occupancy. Enter the VMNO or Virtual Mobile Network Operators like Xfinity. They have partnered with Verizon so, you are staying at Verizon’s hotel at budget rates. You enjoy the coverage that Verizon has everywhere they have service. You just pay less. The only exception could be in major cities where in times of great data usage you get pushed to a lesser grade of service occasionally. I have not noticed any degradation of service whatsoever so far. The flexibility in plans has taught me a valuable lesson on just what the price of data is worth to me. There may be months where it’s nice to use data to stream a movie somewhere away from home or convenient. For now I am realizing that there are so many Xfinity hotspots, I am only using about .5GB a month personally. My bill would be $12/month if it was just me! Google Fi might be another viable option for some.


Since I got a new roof for the solar it was time to do a new wind mitigation and shop for Home Insurance as well. My rates were cut nearly in half saving $1300/yr. I even added some insurance for the solar panels. I did the same for Auto Insurance and managed to save another $400/yr.


After buying a few Rokus (streaming stick for TV), a Cable Modem, and extender and installation of Internet I was out $385. My monthly savings however is $348 without factoring in Solar or gasoline savings. All in all-my annual savings is $6650 with all of these cost cutting measures and, I get to enjoy an electric vehicle, and pay no electric bills. It’s what good mojo gives you. No emissions on one vehicle at least or our home.  Our ICE vehicle (internal combustion engine) we use $30 a month of gas on now. It is only for when the other vehicle is unavailable or for family long vacations where we need to bring more than we would want to take in just the Tesla. I am looking forward down the road in retirement to having eliminated monthly expenses or altering them severely to keep more on a budget. I am living a life long dream with many of these changes for the planet at the same time. In the first two and half months of ownership, my solar power plant has saved 2.7 Tons of carbon emissions. Think what would happen if Florida took the lead on solar. That doesn’t even count the 6700 miles already driven on my electric vehicle. 
I have since learned that if you use my referral in some of these ventures I can actually benefit. Please consider doing so and helping me out if these suggestions guided you to a particular similar solution with these companies. I would be tickled to hear that you experienced the same level of satisfaction from any one of these changes that I have made for myself and our family. Thanksgiving is about sharing and giving thanks right?

TESLA referral code:

Southern Sky Solar: mention Matthew Sonneborn or Naples Race Director of Gobble Gobble

Xfinity: and find the link on a post.

YoutubeTV: here’s a place to find discounts for you for a trial.




Giving back to the community is an ongoing commitment of The Ralph MacNiven Agency. They have been a big supporter of St. Matthew’s House and other community organizations in Naples for 43 years.

In 2015, Ralph initiated the Mac and Cheese Campaign to support the community with a food staple that is often in short supply throughout the year. During the past three years, his agency has collected over 2600 boxes of Mac and Cheese. Ralph expects 2018 to be an exciting year for his agency Mac and Cheese Campaign! He has committed to match the number of boxes donated with the number of participants in Gobble Gobble Four Miler race which is currently estimated to be 1400 participants.

In talking with Ralph, he describes his agency this way,

“We are a caring agency that specializes in tailoring your insurance and financial plans to your specific individual needs. We take great pride in being on a first name basis with many of our clients. We provide guidance and solutions to individuals, businesses and our community each and every day.”

Please join us in supporting the Mac and Cheese Campaign and the Gobble Gobble Four Miler. Donations of Mac and Cheese or cash donations can be dropped off at the MacNiven agency located at 3765 Airport Pulling Rd. N Suite 100 between the hours of 9AM to 5PM Monday thru Friday.

Remember together we can all make a difference in our community, one box of Mac and Cheese at a time!!!!!



















ninja start

Simon has been running the Gobble Gobble since 2013 when he took home the 1st place victory for best costume as a pilgrim with a musket. That first year he found his groove. Before the race he admitted he was “freaking out a bit.” That year he didn’t have family around so he decided to go and be with his friends from Leapfrog Running, a very close knit group: his extended family of sorts.

simon costume prize

At the finish line Simon pretended he was shooting a turkey!

Simon is one of the main leaders of the Gordon’s pass challenge with Paul Neils, You can read all about that here in this article from our partners at Fit Naton Magazine


Tracy is a big believer in the integration of Yoga into running and he’s seen great improvement himself. He has been setting personal records consistently and placing or winning his age group this past year. His motto is “go and figure it out on your own” as he has. Simon says, “I don’t profess to know all the answers” but people ask him for advice all the time.

When he isn’t working out he is an artist. He even makes some of his own art tools. Check out the work he did here at this home on this wall:

simon art

Come out and celebrate with us and bring out your best costumes and have a great time everyone!


Emmanuel Lutheran Service Benefiting St. Matthew’s House

This Sunday November 8, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Race Director and Principal Trumpeter of the Naples Philharmonic Matthew Sonneborn will  perform during two services to benefit St. Matthew’s House. During the collection portion of the service indicate on your check memo ‘St Matthew’s House’ or bring checks/donations for them to the service. Additionally, following the service Matt will be there to greet and collect donations for St Matthew’s House. He will perform music of Telemann, Stephenson and Charpentier at the 9:30 and 11 AM services. Emmanuel Lutheran is located at 777 Mooringline Drive.

If you cannot make it and would like to make a donation you can do it by scrolling to make a donation Here:


Anyone who makes a donation of $30 or more through this or the Gobble Gobble donation site qualifies for VIP Packet Pickup of which will be announcing opportunities for in the coming weeks. Easy or no lines, early Pickup of numbers and shirt size availability guaranteed and undivided personal service.

About St Matthew’s House:

The mission of St. Matthew’s House is based on the principle, “to impact the lives of the least of these in a spiritual environment that is both compassionate and disciplined.” It all started in 1987 when a group of Naples parishioners followed a calling to bring food to a homeless population living in a nearby wooded area.

The “Task Force for the Homeless” began gathering contributions of both food and clothing, establishing the mission’s food pantry.  Throughout the years, community support has helped grow the small mission into a multi-faceted organization focused on spiritual change.

Our 100% donation model allows all of our operating expenses to be covered by unique social enterprises – which enable us to direct 100% of all public donations toward our life-changing programs that continue to enrich countless lives in our community.


A glimpse into the world of professional cycling

10801521_307882136073629_4552391820988993481_nHave you ever stumbled across a professional cycling event on TV and wondered who those guys in the support cars are? One of them happens to be on your safety support team at the Gobble Gobble Four Miler. John Columbus started tinkering with bikes out of necessity. He was a bike messenger in Boston in 1991 and kept having to repair his bike. He went to the Boston Public Library and found everything he could to educate himself on bicycle maintenance and would order parts himself or buy them from a local bike shop as a do it yourself-er. It didn’t take long before he found himself employed as a commercial bike mechanic. There was a company in Boston who sold bike tours to Europe where one would stay in five-star hotels on vacation package deals. They had a fleet of different types of bikes and John took the job. He had to maintain hybrids, touring bikes, trailer equipment, locks etc., and he was good at it. He would box it all up and Fedex and UPS it out to Italy or Spain and that was all great.

By 1997, he decided to apply as a mechanic at a local bike shop. It was there that he met a pro race mechanic who passed along the tools of the trade to him so that he could specialize in serious racing bike maintenance. He kept encouraging him to go to the Olympic training center. John has been a professional level mechanic since 2007. He was trained both in Rhode Island where they did regional training at the time and in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Center itself.

John leans out the support vehicle to offer a quick repair in motion!

John leans out of the support vehicle to offer a quick repair in motion!

Since then he found that having worked in local bike shops here, there was a niche market of triathletes and competitive cyclists that he could service as a specialist. His business is called Race Doctor Pro Cycling. People would walk into the bike shops on a Thursday and realize “Oh I have a race this weekend and I should really get my bike tuned up.” With the kind of volume at most bike shops, the customers don’t realize that the turnaround can’t quite always be quick enough to get you set up and to your race all tuned up on the same day. That IS something he can offer in his business at Race Doctor Pro Cycling and at an extremely high level. What is more, he can come and get your bike from you and return it to you. John understands that you might not have thought about the fact your bike needs to be in top shape for the weekend until it is too late to help you. That is why he formed a business with quick and reliable service that has hit the ground running since 2014.

One of the contingencies he put in place for the summer months was to still keep his hands in the racing world. This summer in fact, he found himself flying to Belgium as a landing point and working in the Czech Republic and Germany for a racing team. It is a tough and dedicated life to work a team’s equipment. Though the cities change from day to day they must work from their base and have all of the equipment gathered, show up early to have everything ready again at the beginning of each day cleaned and running perfectly at performance optimized level to the next start line.

Locally in Naples, on days in the summer where things are slow he will occasionally just go out and help people he sees that breakdown. He sees that as not only good business as his vehicle is easily identified by his brand, but as a way to advocate for better safety. He will occasionally strike up a conversation with cyclists that he sees to warn them of how dangerous our area is and to obey safe cycling habits when he sees situations arise. He tries to lead by example and about 75% of the time, it is met with gratitude.


You can see John giving back at several events for causes that he tries to support. He helped with the Pan-Florida Challenge for Hungry Kids, for Cyclefest Miami which benefits a battered women’s shelter, and with Campagnola USA for a ride in NY with 5.600 riders among others.


Helping feed hungry kids with Maura Plante and the Pan-Florida Challenge

While he enjoys being his own boss, he has a great appreciation for what it takes to run your own business. He calls it a “crash business course and the best you could receive.” If you want to get a professional tune up for your upcoming race check out his facebook page here:

This week we want you to meet our friend and participant from the Gobble Gobble Four Miler Michelle Joy Kramer who is a local nutritionist and health coach. Her message is clear as with others we have interviewed and inspiring:

mjk_beach2_socialsFormer smoker turned Ironman.

One morning in her apartment in NYC Michelle lit up a cigarette and turned on the TV. She was unaware of the impact of what was about to happen to her. She found herself watching the Ironman championships and in tears. Inside it lit a fire of inspiration to one day compete in one. She moved back to Florida and eventually decided to try and find a coach.
When her stepfather read the paper and started a conversation about a local triathlete’s successes Michelle had the good fortune of him saying “you won’t be able to do that.” Those words were like liquid nitrogen. She marched into her local running store and she asked for a reference for a coach only to find out that the person helping her was married to a gifted one who was willing to barter for massage therapy, which was her occupation at the time. The thing is, Michelle had very little experience and really had mainly just run a few 5K’s. She didn’t even own a bike at the time and could hardly swim a lap in the pool. Her coach Marty immediately had her sign up for her first sprint triathlon.

“When I started I was extremely intimidated, I thought I couldn’t do this, but I had the most incredible coach and he got me out of bed everyday. I would cry and fall off and he would say get back up..let’s go. He did Kona every year. At 75  he still competes at Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.”

She was hooked

She ended up winning her age group in her first event and she was hooked. She moved up to Olympic distance, then a half Ironman and within a year and a half the full Ironman. She was eventually able to qualify for Kona Ironman World Championships. While many people today do Ironmans only about 10% qualify and finish the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
After she achieved her Ironman goals she decided to head in a different direction. She decided to share her transformation with others and retired from triathlon training and competing. She became a health coach and nutritionist. Her nutrition during training and her drive changed her personal health and outlook and she just made a business plan and created her vision for it. You can visit her site here and though her client list is currently full, she might be able to offer you advice and steer you to another.

Michelle’s message to you:

You can do this! She had a personal record at the Gobble Gobble Four Miler ™ last year herself. You know you are going to overeat a bit on Thanksgiving so why not start your morning at Venetian Village with your family and do something great for yourself and make it your tradition? It is the perfect way to celebrate. Go ahead and sign up even if you never have before. Here is a simple training program that can help you get to the finish line or better yet just walk or jog in the fun run event or 1 Mile event. This is a non-intimidating event for all levels.


Michelle Kramer coming into the last turn of the 2014 Gobble Gobble Four Miler in her super hero garb.

Michelle Joy Kramer CHHC, AADP

Ernie Tolson is the shuttle driver for the Gobble Gobble from Tamiami Ford.

There’s a fellow that has been helping with this event who has a pretty inspiring story.


Ernie drives the shuttle donated from our partners at Tamiami Ford. That helps make parking a snap from Northern Trust to the start line for those who choose our park and ride option. We virtually never have a wait and shuttles run continuously.

When Ernie was 16 growing up in the ghettos of Washington, DC his father passed away from a battle with kidney failure while on dialysis. His mother shortly thereafter was raped and very badly beaten. She was unable to care for Ernie and as he put it, so severely disfigured from the beating she was “unrecognizable.”

He hit the streets in search of work and off on his own living in a car. “I would do janitorial work, handyman odd jobs, moving cars or anything that I could to get by. At one point I happened upon a car dealership and spoke to someone I assumed was a manager of some sort. It was actually the owner of the dealership.” Mr Crans found Ernie to be very honest, sincere and badly in need of the job and hired him on the spot. Ernie says, “I was destined for jail or dead. I take no credit. Anyone who has any faith..[and hears my story will understand this was god’s work.]”

Mr. Crans unfortunately was diagnosed with Parkinson’s after a time, and though he was a very wealthy man, he didn’t want his wife to have to be a caretaker and burdened with the responsibility of what he felt were embarrassing home health care issues nor did he want to have to hire a home health care professional that he didn’t know or trust. He entrusted Ernie as his driver and caretaker for 20 years before passing away and had basically adopted him as a family member. He would also have Ernie transport his boat to his Port Royal home in Naples and drive him from Washington DC as needed. Mr Crans told him how much his service had meant to him before he passed and left him a condo is his estate here in Naples. That was an incredible blessing as was their long relationship to each other’s mutual benefit.

Now Ernie found himself once again unemployed and looking for work. Where would he go? He had only one job on his resume and his reference was now deceased. When he went to Tamiami Ford there was a very familiar story that was about to take place. He interviewed for the job with someone he assumed was a manager of sorts. Mind you, this was around 2007 or 2008 during the economic downturn so there were more than a few applicants. It turned out to be Tim Zellars the owner and Ernie’s story struck the same human chord with him that it had with Mr Crans. He was intrigued. Ernie has been employed at Tamiami Ford as a driver for their shuttle ever since and is very grateful for the opportunity afforded him by the Zellars family and their kindness to him over the years. Their dealership embodies family and faith.


Ernie’s mother is now a Deacon and pastor and an inspiration to others from what she has endured.

After the devastating occurrences of when he was 16 Ernie was convinced “there ain’t no god.” It was a year and a half later he met Mr Crans who truly was a who’s who of DC, and his spouse was a descendant of Abraham Lincoln by the way, and that changed his life forever. Ernie’s faith is unwavering. When you meet him and talk to him if you are lucky enough getting a shuttle ride from him, you will meet a man full of happiness and love that is hard to match.

Recently some old friends of Mr. Crans contacted Ernie from Washington asking if he could help. Mrs Sweets asked if he could move to Naples to help take care of her. He told her he was in Naples and he offered to help her. She had to have an amputation and was in a nursing home. He assisted her for 2 years before she passed recently. He often talks to people that he drives and occasionally there have been folks that invite him to their homes for meals that he can tell some are a bit lonely and could use some company. He always accepts their invitations. He recently has been volunteering over at St Matthew’s House quite a bit. He has accepted his calling in life to help others and has led a rich life indeed.

The spirit of the Gobble Gobble is tied to everyone connected to the event. Please realize what a special event takes place on Thanksgiving here. We are so grateful to each and every sponsor, volunteer, participant and family connected to this event and especially the charities. This year stay tuned for a special opportunity we will introduce with our partners at Tamiami Ford closer to the event.

The Zellars family who own Tamiami Ford are pretty special people and I don’t mind telling you that my family drives two excellent vehicles that I have purchased from them. A number of close friends have also been very happy with their cars and how they were treated there. Don’t hesitate to support this local family business if you are looking for a great car or truck.

Tamiami Ford

Kathy Bigham, A CEO that finds time to run and gives back

bigham jewelersKathy Bigham used to think she didn’t have time to take care of herself. “My lifestyle was to put business and family first, and as a mom I put myself last.” As a mother of two and a CEO in charge of her business, it just wasn’t a priority. She started noticing that she felt sluggish in the morning and as she puts it, “I wasn’t bouncing out of bed anymore.” She decided to make a change and hired a health coach. The changes that took place were systemic and bled into her whole life and especially business for the better.

“At first I couldn’t run the length of our street. It wasn’t until I could run my first mile I really believed that I was capable of a lot more. Of course, my son kept telling me I couldn’t so that was a motivator too. I kept pushing myself and getting good advice from my health coach not to push too much too soon. I also learned that the food I was putting into my body was holding me back. Soon I was up at 5AM for workouts and loving it and drinking protein shakes and juicing.”

Not only did Kathy find new untapped energy, at work, she became a motivating happier more effective leader. She learned that some of what she was taught in business school turned out not to be true for her. She became very interested in all of her employees well being and offered them opportunities to exercise together and motivate each other in fun creative ways. She now orders in healthy juices from a local company named Juiceelation on occasion. She provides healthy meals for all of her employees and affords them a great deal of understanding. When appropriate, she provides leniency to take unscheduled leave when it comes to personal matters to make sure they are happy employees. She believes that she would rather have them staying for over 15 years then be unhappy over a denied leave. They have much less incidence of illness and sick days. Productivity and morale is exceptionally high. She will provide facial massages on occasion as well. In return with that trust she has earned, her employees are “all in” when they are there and fully invested in making their company succeed. They are committed to service and excellence. This investment and vision in the “long game” is what she credits her success to.

kbighamThe Gobble Gobble Four Miler was her first Thanksgiving run and one she wants to hold as a tradition. Her goals include a half marathon in Miami in January and if all goes well her first marathon in 2016 Fall/Winter.

Her message she wants to share is: you can do this. You are capable of so much more than you may think that you are and starting with your own well being and health is a fantastic investment to everything you do. So all you CEOs or moms or anyone out there who think you don’t have time for taking care of yourself, you don’t have time NOT to take care of yourself.


image002Kathy Bigham has always believed that being IN a community brings the obligation to be OF the community. Motivated by her deep love for family, she focused her charitable giving efforts on causes that serve women and children and, generally, improve people’s lives. The Boys & Girls Club, Christ Child Society, Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, Naples Alliance for Children, The Naples Players, and Baker Park, are just a few of roughly forty organizations that receive Bigham support in one way or another. Support can take the form of direct, hands-on service; sharing of Bigham Jewelers’ Conference Room for non-profit Meetings; gifts of merchandise and gift certificates for events; and donated Bigham expertise in marketing, public relations, board development and event planning/management.We are so grateful to Bigham Jewelers for their generous support of this event and their support of St. Matthew’s House.

Guest blog by Jennifer Palma

Maybe it was fate..

On September 21st 2015 will mark a ten year anniversary of the end of my life as I knew it and the beginning of a new life I never thought possible. You see on Sept 21, 2005, I lost my husband, the love of my life, to cancer having moved here from New Jersey to try to give Jim his last wish which was to retire and move to Florida.

We went back to New Jersey for the funeral services. After the funeral services we received this Huge Beautiful Fruit Bouquet from a friend, it was delicious, refreshing and it even brought a smile to my face even in my darkest hour, we all enjoyed it. I still remember Jim’s Brother Alan saying “Hey Jen you & Jimbo always wanted to open a business when you moved to Florida this would be perfect.” He took the Hangtag on the bouquet and stuck it in my purse.ea-logo (1)

I came back to Florida trying to give my teen age son & daughter some normalcy, Matthew & Michelle were devastated but we slowly started accepting and healing. I went back to work the kids back to school.   It didn’t take long to see that things were far from normal, Matthew & Michelle were still grieving and it showed in their school work and behavior and I was having a hard time keeping up with a full time job, medical bills, and nurturing my children was of the utmost importance, so I took a personal leave of absence.

As I was going through bills and papers at home, I came across the Hangtag from Edible Arrangements and I told my neighbor about it. At the time there was only one store here in Southwest Florida which was in Naples. My neighbor Kathy said why don’t we open one here in Bonita?   So we called and there was no availability in Bonita because of demographics, they did have Fort Myers location open. So we researched the company went to Discovery Day at Edible’s Headquarters and signed up for a franchise.


I went back to work only to see drastic changes in my office. I stayed long enough to make sure the new manager was fully trained and I resigned. I am forever grateful for all the skills that I have learned in my banking career of 25 years without it I know I wouldn’t have succeeded.

On December 2006 just before Christmas my neighbor/partner backed out on me.

My biggest challenge was financing, with a partner backing out and no income to borrow against I used my home equity credit line, depleted all my savings, sold my house and even sold my jewelry to keep cash flow with the downturn of the economy in 2008.

I truly believed in my heart that was my husband’s last gift and I was going to do it with or without her and so on June 4, 2007, I opened my first location in Fort Myers.

Once the store opened we started to get busy and everyone embraced the concept of fresh cut fruit, just like me everyone that received their fruit arrangement was wowed. It was beautiful, healthy, delicious and impressive.

Edible Arrangement

I refused to focus on the finances and joined BNI and the Chamber of Commerce to market my new business, sent hundreds of free arrangements and advertised locally. We made sure we offered a great product and excellent customer service. In 2008 with the economy downturn, I kept on going and even though a lot of businesses were shutting down we were growing in double digits.   I also met John Kubicek who owned a weight loss center in the same plaza and he had 30 years of restaurant experience. I was telling him one day how I wish I had someone that has kitchen management experience to help me with the growing pains I was experiencing in my store, he said he is very slow in his weight loss business and would love to help out, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Our love for the product and passion to do the right thing by our employees, like offering health benefits & vacation, appreciating our clients helped us grow to four stores.

In 2010, we opened our Bonita Store still no funding from banks or brokers. I used my 401K to open the store. We had so many people say why can’t you deliver to Bonita? The Naples store had that territory and they serviced it when they were slow and when they got busy they didn’t. Three years of customers complaining about the Naples store. Finally, our Bonita store opened serving Bonita Springs, Estero and North Naples; it was a hit from day 1.

In 2011 I was contacted by Edible Arrangements Corporate about the North Fort Myers location the owner was going to close the store so we purchased the store owner financing and a small loan from BankUnited. The store, staff and customers needed a lot of TLC, but now the store has more than doubled their sales.

In 2013, the opportunity came to purchase the Naples and finally for the first time we actually were able to purchase with a Loan from Bank United . What a relief! Finally, no financial worry and we get to take over a store that has tremendous potential. Our Naples location also needed a lot of TLC and now sales are up 47%.

All of this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for our communities’ support including BNI, Chamber of Commerce and our customers.

I am most grateful to my daughter Michelle who has been with me since day 1.

I am grateful for John his tremendous help in managing and nurturing our team members.

I am grateful for all the team leaders & members we have now and we had in the past, many of them come to help out on holidays we couldn’t do it without them!