A look at news and events held by the Naples Italian American Foundation in the past.

Coaches of Special Olympics
Coaches of Special Olympics

L to R : Dominick Scarecella, MJ, BobFrigoletto, Renato Stella, Nick Pezzulo, Bill Martoccia, Pat Zuccaro, Mary Rossi, Damian Rossi.


We would like to celebrate all of the coaches who volunteered their time to coach this year Special Olympians.


Speical Olympians of Collier County Florida
Special Olympians of Collier County

L to R: Many of our wonderful Special Olympians of Collier County.



All of us at the Naples Italian American Foundation would like to congratulate all of the fantastic Special Olympians of Collier County. They participate with an incredible amount of determination, professionalism and skill for all of the events. Not only are we proud of you but your families are even prouder of your accomplishments.

Registration Table Volunteers

L to R: Eileen Renzi, Mary Bernardi, Martha Pompeo, Moira Fennessey, Mary Rossi, Nora Ousley.


The Naples Italian American Foundation would like to thank everyone who volunteered to work at this years annual Gene Sarazen Charity Golf Tournament. We are always grateful and appreciative of everyone's tremendous effort and teamwork which helps make each of our annual tournaments a great success.

Introducing a Few of the Women

L to R: Margaret Jennings, Sally Santolli, Marie Maroshek, Barbara Mathews


From the looks of things all of the women were seen having a great day out on the course at this years 8th Annual Gene Sarazen Charity Golf Tournament.

As Well As a Few of the Men

L to R:  Carl Santolli,  Bob Winter,  Bob Burian,  Don Boatman.


From the looks of things all of the men were also having a great day out on the course at this years 8th Annual Gene Sarazen Charity Golf Tournament.

A Relaxing Afternoon

L to R: Joe & Viola D'Annunzio


Just one of the many couples  seen relaxing after the Annual Charity Golf Tournamanet.

NORTH NAPLES, FL - The buzz of chatter inside the Naples Italian American Foundation became stark silence at the start of the clock.

Then came the sound of small tiles clicking the wooden tables. Muted voices called out names that sound like gibberish to those who don’t know the game.


One dot. Four bams. Dragon. Flower. Mahjong!


The tiles are turned upside-down and shuffled on the table. On to the next game.


The Naples Italian American Foundation on Orange Blossom Drive in North Naples is holding its second three-day mahjong charity tournament of the year this weekend.


Click here to see more photos of the tournament


The tournament, which benefits Bosom Buddies Breast Cancer Support, attracted 64 competitors — 63 women and one man — from all over Florida, many of whom visited Naples just for the tournament.


In tables of four, they played with unsmiling faces, leaning forward in their chairs to keep track of the tiles others discarded and quickly planning a change of hand if needed.


Saturday’s tournament consisted of six rounds of four games each. Each round lasted 50 minutes. The players got up from their chairs only after the 50 minutes were up to take bathroom breaks or get coffee, bagels or doughnuts.


“It’s very competitive, and you have to be alert,” said Nora Ousley, the foundation’s vice president of publicity. “It’s complicated.”


The players follow a card with the standard hands and rules of the National Mah Jongg League, which is based in New York City. The plays are symbolized by letters and numbers, and the card reads like bad math.


Although mahjong is played in groups of four, individual players rack up points for every mahjong — a completed play — they call. Point values vary by play, and scores are calculated at the end of each day of the tournament. They’re playing for cash prizes. The first-place winner gets $600. The 10th-place winner gets $50.


Some interesting theories surround the origins of mahjong. One goes that the game was played on Noah’s Ark during the 40 days and nights of torrential rain. Another claims the Chinese philosopher Confucius invented the game. One thing that is agreed upon is that the game originated in China. The word mahjong comes from the Chinese word for sparrow.


Nancy Gruppuso has been organizing the foundation’s tournaments for 10 years and has been playing mahjong for 14.


“I’ve memorized the card, but I play with it anyway,” she said. “Everyone learns at different paces. You have to be able to count tiles and suits and change your hand at any moment.”


Charlotte McDermott, 73, a Naples resident from the Bronx, has been playing mahjong for 52 years.


“I was a young bride with a newborn baby. My Jewish neighbors kind of adopted me and helped me take care of the baby, and they taught me how to play,” McDermott said. “In between games, they would take turns feeding and changing his diaper.”


McDermott said the way to succeed in the game is to know the card.


“I could play without the card, but I don’t,” she said.


Bonnie Wise, 52, the chief financial administrator of Hillsborough County, came to Naples just for the tournament with a group of fellow mahjong players. It was her first tournament in Naples.


“I work full-time, so for me it’s a distraction from work and good mental stimulation,” Wise said.


She started playing seven years ago and said it took her about a year to feel comfortable enough to play in tournaments.


She now has her own mahjong league, Dragons on the Green Mah Jongg, in Tampa. Mahjong tiles hung from her bracelet.


“It didn’t bring me good luck today, but that’s OK,” she said.


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Collier Sports Insider Review - Gene Sarazen Charity Golf Tournament -

Supporting Folds of Honor & Wounded Veterans Relief Fund 

Read the Article




10th Annual Gene Sarazen Charity Golf Outing a Huge Success


This year’s NIAF golf tournament was very successful despite the interference of Hurricane Irma prior to the event. She tried her best to cause havoc, but she could not extinguish the wonderful golf committee who would not surrender. Their determination persevered, and the results were much better than we thought possible. However, our committee folks weren’t about to let a little rain storm stop us from our task. Due to Irma’s wrath, we lost one nine-hole course at Wyndemere, causing us to downsize the number of golf participants. We had hoped for a minimum of 150 golfers, but had to close registration at 107.


Ah, but the day was beautiful, full of Florida sunshine. First, the Naples High School ROTC presented colors, followed by singing of our National Anthem by Donna Doran’s daughter Juliana. The ROTC then demonstrated the folding of the flag and narrated its meaning after every fold. All were filled with patriotic pride.


Before golfing began, the putting contest was held for a grand prize of $10,000. Three putters tried for the big prize, but unfortunately, no one took it. They were, however, rewarded with prizes of $150, $100, and $50 respectively. The raffle went on through the day with prizes of $1,000, $3,000, and $10,000. Four excellent women golfers, Ally Karavakas, Marie Maroshek, Barbara Mathews and Nancy Reiser, made up the first-place winners and were rewarded with a team prize of $2,400. Congratulations, ladies! Second place received $1,000. Because many of the players were not competitive golfers, but participated to support the foundation and the cause of veteran charities in this tournament, we awarded a $200 prize the teams that finished 11th & 19th. It was a surprise that put a smile on their faces.


A feast followed play, with first an overflowing raw bar, as well an hour of open bar, followed by a delicious Italian buffet. During the cocktail hour our guests were treated to an enormous silent auction that was first class. Our auction committee deserves congratulations. The day ended with some very tired committee members, but the smiles and positive comments made the 5 months of planning, meetings, and just plain work made it worthwhile. We owe our thanks to many, many untiring committee members for a job well done. “Molte grazie” to our many participants and contributors, as well.


As we close the books on this year’s tournament, it appears that we will gross about $120,000. We still have some outstanding expenses to reconcile before we will know our net figures, but we can assuredly state that this year event will be a true success. Soon, we will begin planning for the 2018 golf tournament with the goal of building on this year’s accomplishments.


Report by Larry Mohn, Golf Co-Chair