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Two more join race for honorary mayor

March 7, 2012
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

With only a little more than a week to go before the start of the Lehigh Acres Spring Festival, two local residents have signed up to become Lehigh's next honorary mayor. The winner of the honorary mayor's race, sponsored by the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce, is announced on the last Friday night of week-long festival which is March 23.

The two are Johnna Oaker and Ahmed El-Gendy. Both are latecomers to the race, but said they intend to raise money to go to the Chamber and to their favorite charities. They join two others who filed for the honorary mayor race several weeks ago. They are Julia Camp of ABC Framing and chairman of the Relay for Life, and Marcie DeLorerto of Great Florida Insurance, according to Inke Baker, the assistant director of the Lehigh Chamber.

Oaker, a member of the Lehigh Medical Group, is an office assistant in the offices of Dr. Michael Tucker.

El-Gendy is the technical director at Florida Lung & Sleep Associates in Lehigh. His father, Dr. Alaa El-Gendy ran for honorary mayor a few years back.

Those who run for mayor buy votes to win. The one with the most money which is raised through special events, fundraisers and raffles, wins the title for a year and attends ribbon cutting ceremonies and other functions. Lehigh is not incorporated and the role of the honorary mayor is ceremonial.

Oaker said that in addition to the half of the proceeds she raises, which goes to the chamber, she will donate the other half to the Senior Friendship Center at Sunshine Villas in Lehigh.

"It's a place where 60 to 65 seniors are given a free meal daily. I met the director, Diane Fjelsted, and I am very impressed with all that they do," Oaker said.

She plans a fundraiser in front of Dr. Tucker's office at 60 Westminster St. on Saturday, March 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"We'll be having bounce house for the kids, face painting, hotdogs and soda, popcorn, cotton candy and more," she said. Proceeds from the event will go into her account as a contestant for honorary mayor.

"I love Lehigh Acres and often help others at major events. It's nice to be in Lehigh and I want to give back and this is one way in which I can," Oaker said with enthusiasm. Her sponsor is the Lehigh Medical Group.

"The hospital and Dr. Tucker encouraged me to run," she said.

She may also be planning a "Dog Wash" where pet owners can bring their dogs to be groomed. The proceeds will go to the mayor's race. She also is planning to sell 50/50 raffles with six for $5 or one for a dollar. To donate to her campaign, call 239-896-8764.

"I'm an animal lover and I help out a lot with pet rescue groups," she said.

Ahmed El-Gendy said he is running for honorary mayor to support the chamber's activities and to support the Chest Institute, the other non-for profit organization that he will be splitting the funds raised with.

"I believe the chamber provides a necessary and critical role in the community. I would like to support it in any way I can. I also encourage everybody to become an active participant and contribute to it in any means they can, whether it be through donations through my campaign, volunteering, or attending events," he said.

El-Gendy said the Chest Institute is a foundation that is dedicated to early lung cancer detection. The Institute is investing in research and education to find the latest technologies available to detect lung cancer as early as possible. He said the fund will also be used to support the indigent patients who do not have insurance and are unable to pay for their own care.

In addition to being the technical director of Florida Lung & Sleep Associates, he is responsible for the operations of a four-bed sleep lab. He is a registered sleep technologist.

He serves as a director on the board of Lehigh Community Services and is also an elected council person on the Community Council of Lehigh Acres. He is also a past member of the Rotary Club of Lehigh Acres and is the current chairman of the IT Committee for the Chamber of Commerce.

El-Gendy said he would not be holding any major events but that his campaign to become honorary mayor will mainly be online. To contact him for more information and donations, call 369-3333.



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