C’MON Barbie, Partying with a purpose for the Golisano Childrens Museum

Reporter: Jacquelyn Kisic
Published: Updated:

Saturday night, the Golisano Childrens Museum hosted their annual fundraiser “A Night at the Museum”, to continue raising funds for children in Southwest Florida.

The museum, known as CMON, holds their annual galas, auctions and private auctions to raise more than $1.5 million to keep their doors open for operation.

The Chair of the CMON: Dreamhouse theme event, Ashley Gerry, says they chose Barbie for kids to dream big about choosing any career they want.

According to the CEO of the Golisano Childrens Museum, Jonathan Foerster, he says the museum is another place for families and young children to learn, play and grow together.

“The Children’s Museum of Naples is a respite for families to get out of the house,” says Foerster, “be engaged, be learning be making memories together.

With the booming population growth in the South Florida region, Foerster says the need is greater to have the option for thousands of kids to meet and learn.

“163,000 people come through the door, that’s 80,000 Plus kids, all the way from North Port to North Naples and beyond,” says Forester “We try to be a place for every family, every kid, we want them to all have the same experience.”

Foerster says the museum to open for all children, including those who need accessibility and amenity special services.

CMON has dedicated certain sensory days and times for children who hearing, social, physical, emotional and visual challenges to feel more at ease.

While the museum staff meets thousands of families a year, 8-year-old John John, who suffers from down syndrome, is said to be “the life of the party.”

Photo courtesy from the Penn Family of John John

Mike and Daimy Penn, lost their second son James Elliott, just a few days after birth. The family trying to cope with the decision to take John John every day to CMON.

John John’s mom, Daimy Penn, says the staff made it feel like home for the family.

“Everyone here in the museum really just drew to him,” says Daimy, “He’s just like a magnet. And he’s just a really, really special little guy.”

For John John’s father, Mike Penn, he expressed his emotions strongly, about how important the staff has been to their son ability to grow. Without the donations and support, he believes it wouldn’t be the same.

“To give him the opportunity to learn, to grow to develop, and become more impactful as he grows older,” says Mike, “He sees the way people embrace him, people love him that’s the stuff that drives me to do more, and that means so much to us.” 

If you’re interested in donating or becoming a member of this organization, click here.

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