"You name something going on in Marion County, and chances are the Rasburys have had a hand in it," said Sky Wheeler, community director for the March of Dimes. She said in addition to the March of Dimes, the Rasburys have been involved with the Appleton Museum of Art, Munroe Regional Medical Center, the College of Central Florida and the Ocala Royal Dames, just to name a few.
The couple's widespread philanthropic efforts are what led the March of Dimes of Marion County recently to honor them at the nonprofit's 16th annual Honoring Excellence gala.
"It's not only about volunteering with the March of Dimes," said Wheeler, noting the annual award gives special recognition to those who contribute throughout the community as a whole.
The event was held in October once again at Hilton Ocala, but it was very different than in previous years, said Wheeler.
Ten of the area's top chefs and restaurants put together party or date-night packages for the evening's silent auction. They also offered samplings of their signature fare during the event while attendees mingled, ate and voted on People's Choice. Mojo Grill & Catering Co. and Chef Sharon's Gourmet Catering tied for first place in the People's Choice voting.
A live auction offered items such as diamond jewelry, weeklong use of a local doctor's yacht and a cabin/travel package.
Presented by MRMC's Children's Emergency Department, the event also was sponsored by Jenkins Auto Group. Gold-level sponsors were Deluca Toyota, College of Central Florida/the CF Foundation and JM&A Group.
Tickets were $100 per person. Wheeler said she was happy with the turnout of about 250 people, and she "could not have been more pleased" with the funds raised, which will benefit March of Dimes' efforts to improve the lives of sick or premature babies and their families.
Although funds are still "trickling in," Wheeler said, the total amount already has surpassed $70,000.
Frank Rasbury said he and his wife were humbled to be honorees this year.
"Oh, it's definitely a humbling experience when you have nearly 300 people applauding for you like that," he said, noting he was especially happy that three of his and Naida's four children were able to attend.
"And," he joked, "it was nice having such nice things said about us without us being dead."
One highlight of the evening, he said, was the musical tribute to his wife, who was a cast member years ago in the Broadway musical "Porgy and Bess." Performed by select choir members from St. Paul's United Methodist Church, of which the Rasburys are members, the three-song tribute was the entertainment for this year's gala.
"It was just a wonderful evening, and we are so pleased to have our names and reputations associated with the March of Dimes," said Frank Rasbury.