Sanibel New Year’s wish: Prayers for positivity

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Emma Heaton

In the heart of the holiday season, WINK News anchor Emma Heaton set out on a mission to find out what gifts people in Southwest Florida want.

Not the typical presents you’d find under the tree, but what people would ask for if they had a direct line to their city or town.

From less traffic, to more affordable housing, to this…

“Oh, my gosh, subsidize the insurance rates that we’re getting,” said Jodi Kaplan of Naples.

“More parks and amenities,” said Jerry Miller of Fort Myers.

“I’d say more community things,” said Brad Bacon of Cape Coral.

In Sanibel, WINK News met Jeffery Bond, a frequent visitor, and Carolyn Braden, a three-year local. 

Their answers proved to be very different.

Of course, Bond said he wouldn’t mind less traffic.

“The bridge is a little bit of a tough spot getting on and off,” said Bond.

Instead of making that his wish from the city of Sanibel, he chose to focus on the good. 

“It’s those things that they did and they did it well: supporting the community, good infrastructure, good resources, and then… it’s just gonna be a little bit of time before that starts settling itself out. People really enjoy coming back. If you see people on the beach, they’re happy to be here, and I think they all look forward to coming back,” said Bond.

Further down the barrier island, Braden just completed her home repairs from damage after Hurricane Ian.

“Yes, we did. You can see around my property is just now starting to finish up,” said Braden.

Braden started the interview with a twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her face, which quickly turned to tears when Emma asked her the same question she’s asked so many: What is your New Year’s wish for the island?

“I would love for Sanibel to continue to be happy. Throughout this whole thing, no matter what, I’m going to cry,” said Braden. “This was a really hard thing that so many people dealt with and I just want people to continue to spread joy because joy is the only thing that’s gonna get us by still.”

Joy, Braden says, is how everyone on Sanibel will overcome their many challenges.

“I think if everybody can continue to say prayers for everybody down here. It’s not just me. It’s the animals. It’s the plants. It’s the businesses. It’s just every living thing. I just wish for prayers for joy and for happiness,” said Braden.

Braden knows the city is working hard to bounce back from Hurricane Ian. 

It’s easy to be negative, so she prays for positivity.

“So many people said to me, ‘Oh, you’re gonna move right away, right?’ and my answer to that was, ‘No, not right away. I’ll eventually move because I have a whole bunch of life stories to explore and to tell, but I think that Sanibel is going to be better than ever after all of this, and my house’s name right before this all happened was Don’t Worry be Happy, and I think that’s what we all need to do,” said Braden.

What a nice New Year’s wish.

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