Amazing women of the Suncoast: Gina Spicer

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Gina Spicer knows how to throw a party, she's always the center of attention at any party she attends, and she knows how to get people to dig deep in their pockets to help those in need.

She is an amazing woman who uses her unique gifts to help others.

Gina Spicer grew up in Manatee County. "I graduated from Manatee High School when we first moved here. My dad was a big builder on Anna Maria Island."

She started modeling in high school, and was a runner-up in the Miss Desoto pageant. She soon became the Hyatt Hotel’s youngest food and beverage manager. But ultimately, she wanted to follow in her dad's footsteps. "I went to school to be an architect. My father being a builder actually ended up getting a degree in accounting."

After college, she came home to the Suncoast and opened ‘Turtles.’ "Turtles was one of the first rock and roll clubs on Anna Maria Island. I had opportunity to work with so many famous musicians all my brothers played there.”

Then a tragedy changed her life. Musician Ronny Garvin committed suicide. "I held a fundraiser; and back then they didn't even know what fundraisers were—I just wanted to help the family.”

The fundraiser and Turtles was a huge success, but in her 30's Gina closed Turtles, got married, and started a family.

"I had two beautiful children and I was a PTA mom at Steward Elementary. I started fundraising there.” She also volunteered as a fundraiser and event planner for many local charities. It was at one such fundraising event that Manatee Children's Services offered her a job.

"They were like, you know everybody, you're so outgoing. So I started helping the charity and when I realized all they did, I was just floored—blown away." She had found her calling: raising money and awareness to help children.

"These are children that are victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment.” Meanwhile, Gina was facing her personal pain.

"I just went through a recent divorce and it's been tough… you feel like a failure at first.” But she remained determined to stay strong and positive for her children.

"You have to be a good role model for them. They see me be strong, seeing me succeed, seeing me not crawl under a rock and have that positive attitude.”

Throughout her journey, she has learned life is “…about laughing as much as possible, love truly, look at the positive and not the negative, and don't give up.”

Another of Gina’s philosophies—you can make yourself the person you want to be. The person she wants to be is a great mother to her girls and someone who gives every ounce of her strength to making this a better community.