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Miles of Memories -- In honor of a local island hero, non-profit group Adopts a Highway

First Clean-Up Day scheduled for May 16

April 30, 2015
Melissa Schneider , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Shortly after the loss of longtime island local and humanitarian Michael DeCarlo, friends and family gathered together to keep his memorable tradition alive, founding the Michael DeCarlo Foundation, created to continually touch the lives of families and children in need throughout Southwest Florida. The inaugural benefit held by the newly founded group was DeCarlo Rocks, an all-day music festival that brought thousands in from near and far to help the cause.

The foundation's most recent victory was joining the Adopt-a-Highway program through the Florida Department of Transportation. Now the stretch of San Carlos Blvd., between Pine Ridge Road (7-11) and Gladiolus Parkway (CVS) has been dedicated in Michael's honor, with a sign posted at each end, and foundation members are elated of its location, eager to host its first Adopt-a-Highway clean-up day for all interested in joining.

"Michael drove that stretch of road regularly, and it was the perfect location for us to commemorate all that he's done for our community," said Lena Neroni, longtime friend of the fallen angel, and vice president and director of operations of the Michael DeCarlo Foundation.

Article Photos

The Michael DeCarlo Foundation recently Adopted a Highway in Michael’s honor, commemorating the stretch of San Carlos Boulevard between Pine Ridge Road (7-11) and Gladiolus Parkway (CVS), a section of highway on which Michael commuted multiple times daily. The foundation’s first Clean-Up Day will be held Saturday, May 16, beginning at 8 a.m. (before it gets too hot). Those wishing to volunteer should RSVP to Maria, so she knows just how many safety items to reserve, 239-333-6710. Above, from left, Michael DeCarlo Foundation board member Kathy Van Selow, treasurer Becca Clark, vice president Lena Neroni, close friends Bob Tedesco and Diane “D.K.” Kirkpatrick, and foundation president Maria Mapstone. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

"Our committee decided to adopt a road to give back to the community in Michael's honor," said foundation president and executive director Maria Mapstone. "FDOT approved our agreement to adopt the highway Jan. 21, and we put in the request for signs to be printed March 13. We are eager to host our first clean-up day Saturday, May 16, beginning at 8 a.m. (before it gets too hot), and all are encouraged to join us the more, the merrier!"

Those who can volunteer will meet in the Gulf Points Square parking lot, at 15600 San Carlos Blvd. that morning.

"Lori Huff of FDOT would like to introduce herself and go over some safety measures with everyone," Maria said. "Trash-grabbers, vests and gloves are all provided by FDOT. We then spread out on San Carlos Boulevard, from Gladiolus to Pine Ridge, to clean up our little part of the world, keeping our road beautiful. This is also a kid-friendly event."

During the clean-up, water will be provided to all helping out, and if interested in joining, you're encouraged to wear sunblock and wear bright colors (again, safety vests will be provided, but the more bright colors, the better).

So far, 25 people have volunteered, and organizers hope to see even more during the event. An "Adopt-a-Highway Clean-Up Day in the honor of Michael DeCarlo" page has been created on Facebook. Feel free to RSVP and share/invite with other Facebook friends. Also, please RSVP?to Maria, so she can have an accurate count on how many trash-grabbers and safety vests FDOT?should bring. Call her at 239-333-6710.

As for future events and benefits hosted by the Michael DeCarlo?Foundation, "our organization is obligated to clean up this stretch of roadway four times each year. We will keep everyone notified of all future events as they are planned, including other benefits and fund-raisers."

For those interested in joining the foundation, or to help the cause however you can, visit or find the organization on Facebook.



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