BONITA SPRINGS (Sept. 2, 2015) – John Brady, who leased and operated the Everglades Wonder Gardens for two years while helping form a non-profit organization to buy the business from the Piper family, won an Honorable Mention award in the Attractions category from the Lee County Visitor and Conventions Bureau for his efforts. Brady was honored at the VCB’s Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards Ceremony on Aug. 27 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa.

“We are grateful that the Lee County Visitor and Conventions Bureau recognized how hard John worked to keep one of the oldest local attractions open and thriving,” said Trish Leonard, president of the non-profit Bonita Wonder Gardens board of directors. “Thanks to John’s efforts and vision, there was time to form a board comprised of local business and civic leaders, obtain a loan from the City of Bonita Springs to purchase the business, and attract the attention of local donors who are already providing funding to help us make improvements and repay the loan. This is an exciting time for the Everglades Wonder Gardens and for the entire Southwest Florida community, and we all owe our thanks to John Brady for his unwavering commitment to make sure people will enjoy this botanical treasure for generations to come.”

John Brady is a landscape photographer whose Time and Light Photography business specializes in capturing images of the Florida wilderness. Without any previous connection to Everglades Wonder Gardens, he felt compelled to save this special part of the community and of local history.

“I put my life on hold and everything at risk, and with the help of a lot of good people we succeeded,” Brady says. “It is an accomplishment that I take great pride in.”

Everglades Wonder Gardens at 27180 Old 41 Road in Bonita Springs is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the 3.5-­acre botanical jungle features exhibits of tropical birds and reptiles. Highlights include a flamingo pond, alligator pool with 37 gators, duck ponds, aviary, turtle and tortoise exhibits, butterfly garden, bromeliad garden, orchid trail, and gift shop. Admission is $12 for adults 13-­64, $10 for seniors 65 and older, and $7 for children 3­-12. For more information, call 992-­2591 or visit evergladeswondergardens.com.