Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nick Whiteman, Marathon (1)

"I graduated from Coral Shores and have lived in the Keys since the 2nd grade, 1991. After graduation I joined the Army. I joined when I was 17, was in basic training and in the gas chamber the day I turned 18 (happy birthday to me!), and was in Iraq on my 19th birthday. I served for 4 years, did one tour in Iraq 2004-2005. 

I'm glad I did it but I’ll stick with police work from here on out..

After I left the Army I stayed in Fayetteville, NC for a while, I was a store manager for CVS at 21 years old. I did that for a couple of years, then I moved to Italy for a year in a half. It was awesome! I am a big history guy, so I loved it. The best part was driving from Vicenza, Italy up through Austria and then the through the Alps to Germany. I have never seen anything like that landscape anywhere else!

Before I left Italy, I applied online with the sheriff’s office here in Monroe County. I kind of always knew what I wanted to do growing up. I wanted to join the Army, which I did, and I wanted to be a police officer. What better place to do it than where you grew up? I interviewed and was sponsored by the Sherriff’s office; they paid for the academy and paid me for working, it was a great program, and the rest is history.

I have a daughter with my first wife who I see all the time, and am now married to a wonderful woman and we have one son with a second on the way! This is the last one! I am going to the doctor after this; I am taking care of business!

It is just so hard down here, the cost of living. It has been an issue in the Keys forever. It is expensive to live down here. It is like a catch 22; we get a raise and then the house insurance goes up or something else goes up. We have a dual income and we still struggle. She works for the Sherriff’s office also, working with at risk kids.

It is really hard, but it is the lifestyle; you pay for the lifestyle. We chose to live where people go on vacation. You have to take the good with the bad.

I have chosen to serve my whole life. I served my country, and now I serve my community, but I can’t buy a house. That’s sad, there is something wrong there. I have chosen to serve and have asked nothing in return, it shouldn’t be so hard. We need to start taking care of the people who take care of us, not just the police officers, but the teachers, the nurses, and those who work for the community.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rhonda & Isabella - Coral Shores High School - Only in the Keys

Only in the Keys...

“Let me preface this with; my daughter has the Marine Science II, Honors class at Coral Shores.

I received a phone call this morning:

“Mom, can you go to Keys Kritters, get some brine shrimp, and bring it to me at school?”

Me, still half asleep at 7:30 am, “You need what?”

“Brine shrimp mom, my pregnant seahorse needs to eat.”

“Ok, I will be there after the store opens.” I mean, you can't leave a pregnant seahorse hungry, right?

So, at 10am I delivered 2 scoops of brine shrimp, which the lady at Keys Kritters informed me most of us know as ‘sea monkeys’.

When the lady who runs the office (who wasn’t fazed one bit by brine shrimp getting delivered) called my daughter’s math teacher to ask if she could leave class a couple of minutes early for a ‘fish delivery’, it wasn’t a problem, he wasn’t fazed either.

Only in the Keys is this type of occurrence normal!”

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mako – Crusade for Canines

Mako is turning 12 years old and you are invited to her birthday party!

Her birthday party will be held on Saturday, October 17, 10:45 a.m. at Made 2 Order Restaurant in Tavernier (90691 O/S Hwy.) Please bring a gift or a donation…all of which will be donated to the Upper Keys Humane Society. Since Mako is so well cared for and has everything she needs, she wants to help those dogs not as fortunate.

It will be a day of fun for a good cause! Chef David at Made 2 Order has generously donated the location, 14 year old Izabella Hernandez will be hosting the event, the talented Dave Feder will be playing music, the Upper Keys Humane Society will be on hand to receive cash donations, and Chef David’s daughter Abigail will be Mako’s personal assistant for the day. Abby will be bringing Mako to the event; the two of them will arrive in a Barbie Jeep driven by Abby! After the event, the pair will deliver all of Mako’s birthday gifts to the Humane Society.

SeaTheKeys Transportation is providing free shuttle service to and from Old Conch Harbor.
Come join the fun! Here is a link the poster/invitation and the party announcement:

Mako is a rescue dog, rescued by Ric and Stephanie Eddins when she was 3 weeks old. Ric and Stephanie split up, but they, along with new stepdad Johnny share her care. She spends 3 days a week with Ric and 4 days a week with Stephanie and Johnny. She has been starring in her own videos for years, and is the official spokespup for

Mako is so happy and grateful to have such a great family to care for her, and she wants to give back to those dogs less fortunate than her. She is launching a new product line as part of her Crusade for Canines, with 25% of gross revenue going to dog charities. Go to for more information about the party and Mako’s Crusade for Canines.

Laura Shaffer, Chasing Dragonflies

I’ve been a creator since a little girl, and always felt that desire to create pulling on my soul. Growing up in a dysfunctional family and home schooled in a rural area, it was isolated and confusing, but art was a way to connect to my emotions and retreat from the chaos. Through the years, despite college and pursuing a professional career, art has always been my true passion.

Two years ago, I decided that I would sell my house and move to the Florida Keys. Getting to that point, however, involved feeling disconnected and unfulfilled at work and overwhelmed by maintaining a house, depression, and isolation. After selling my home and putting most of my belongings in storage, I loaded my 20 year old small Volvo with a tent, air mattress, clothing, food, art supplies and my little dog, and headed to the Keys, with arrangements to camp in someone’s backyard until I found permanent housing. I ended up living at a small campground, staying there for two and a half months, sharing the common areas with other campers. It was a great experience, I felt part of a community of dreamers and creators, and felt the Keys community was where my soul wanted to be.

At the end of the season, I purchased a trailer in Marathon, and moved in there. In many ways, I was incredibly grateful for that place, after having lived in a tent. No more “no see ums” at night!! My own little kitchen! My own bathroom! My own TV! An air conditioned place for my dog while I worked! But the trailer had issues that needed repaired, and I found myself back in the same position as when I owned my home, of repeatedly doing maintenance and spending money on a property and it felt overwhelming. And despite finding some community activities in Marathon and Big Pine, such as meditation and kayaking groups, I found that the majority of social activities involved bars and drinking, while I sought more art, music, and spiritual connections.

So I sold the trailer, and returned to South Central Pennsylvania, the town where I grew up and still have friends and family, with the intention of returning after the holidays. I went to a goal-planning workshop and came to the conclusion that I really do want to pursue my dream of opening an art shop in Key West, and focus on creating, connecting with, and helping the community. I met a lot of people in the keys who are searching for connection, for spirituality, for meaning in their lives, as well, and I want to pursue that in a community. It’s been a year, now, and I believe that this is the year to return! I started a Kickstarter campaign and along with working and sticking to a tight budget, while living in a small town with a low cost of living, I plan to continue saving money to raise the necessary funds!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kim Chesher, GNO Radio Show

My mother’s family is from Nassau and my father is from New York State, White Plains area. They met at the University of Miami. Dad finished up his doctorates there, and mom got her masters in English Lit. But her forte is art. She always loved art. Now she owns “Islamorada Art On A Whim” at the Rain Barrel. My mom started one of the first spay and neuter clinics for the cats in Key West (she’s still rescuing and fixing) and My dad is in the Pacific… saving all the sea life….I visited him in Fiji and toured some islands a while back and that was amazing. It’s so beautiful.
I was raised in Key West, on a boat originally. My dad did a lot of work for Westinghouse (I think.) They were in Key West doing all the research, so we lived on a big research vessel. He worked with the Key West Aquarium. I loved living on the boat for the first 3 years of my life, loved the marina. I didn’t know anything different. When I was still really young, I remember we had wild dolphin that came into the harbor all the time. I was afraid to get in the water with them, because they were enormous and I was just so little! But people would get in and swim with them right there in the harbor. When I reflect on it, I know I had such a rich childhood. I remember my parents catching dinner right off the pier. It was really special to grow up there, I feel so lucky to have had that experience.
Funny Key West childhood story – when Fantasy Fest first started, they made a big deal out of it being a family affair. They wanted all the families to come out. So my mom took me (I was probably 4 or 5) and I remember seeing all the bright colors and crazy people. People had spray painted their bodies gold and silver…there was much nakedness! I remember holding my mom’s hand and she was very stiff. She didn’t make a big deal out of it or anything, which I think was smart because I didn’t really understand what was going on; I just remember I couldn’t understand why she was so stiff. I was a LOT older before I was able to go back to Fantasy Fest!
I would bike all over town and to school every day. I went to elementary school in Keys West but moved up to Coral Shores for my last 3 years of high school. There wasn’t much for us kids to do at that time, and I needed more stimulation. When I told my mom that I wanted to leave Key West in search of stimulation, we made it as far as Islamorada! I was thinking more like Manhattan…exciting, night life, woo hoo! But I love this area. I’ve made a lot of good friends here.
I’ve seen a lot of environmental changes. When I was in high school, everybody hung out playing volleyball on the beach at Holiday Isle. There was a barge out in the water that we would swim out to and jump off. When you jumped into the water, you would literally be encompassed in a wall of fish. Like something you see on National Geographic, you know where they hit each other there are so many of them swimming together. Just right there with all the people, it was incredible.
When I was in my early twenties, I was in a movie that was being filmed down here. They offered to pay for my scuba certification because I needed to scuba dive for a scene. We went on the boat out to one of the reefs to dive one day. When we got back in, the captain said to me, “I don’t understand why you are being so quiet. Most people are so vocal, going on about everything they saw on their first dive.” I told him it was because I was raised here, and I remembered swimming in the water when there was so much more life. But, when we dove the reef, I was shocked and saddened by how sparse the wildlife was. It is starting to come back. A lot of effort has been made recently to restore the reefs. Everyone has pitched in to try and bring it back and it’s getting so much better. But there was a time there when it got bad. It was heartbreaking to me see it that void of fish when I remembered it so full of life.
I worked for a jewelry store just out of high school. I always wanted to work. I was begging my mom to let me go to work as soon as I was legally old enough. I bused tables at one place, my first job. I was the happiest bus boy you ever saw in your life. I did some hostessing, some waitressing. But I have always loved jewelry. Ever since I was little I’ve been obsessed with shiny things because my grandmother was always covered in jewels. So, I met a person at an art show with a jewelry store and they offered me a job, and I loved it. Now I live and breathe jewelry.
So, I had also done a lot of acting and drama when I was young. I did some things with the Keys Players, some movies and TV, just low level stuff. One day soon after going to work at the jewelry store, the radio station was going to do a remote at our store and my boss said that because I had done some acting I had to go out and talk to them. I said, “Ok, but give me a script” He said no script, just go do it! So I went up there, and I was like “Oooo I don’t know what to say…..” But K. C. Stewart was there and he interviewed me. And afterwards, he asked me if I wanted a job. I said sure, and he said to come down to the station the next day. I went to the studio and I made sure he knew that I had no experience in radio. He said that’s good because that means I can train you and you don’t come pre-programed. To begin with, he gave me a five minute news spot to record, which I think took me 30 minutes or longer! I was terrified of the microphone, my heart was pounding like Roger Rabbit right out of my chest; I was sweating. But I did it!
I was so proud of myself with my first spot; I thought I was doing so well. I had my little time line of what happened when, little scripts of what to say at what time, and I was so proud. I really thought I had everything down pat. One day K.C. came in to the studio. I was so happy because I was doing such a great job. You know he’s a man of few words, and he said “Are those your sheets you’re reading from?” I said, “Oh yes, it’s so easy, I’m really getting the hang of it!” He walked over and he ripped up my notes right there and threw them away. I freaked and said “Oh no! What am I going to do now? I don’t know what to say.” He said, “Just talk.” It was terrifying! It took me a few weekends to not feel like I was tripping on my tongue. But, I’m really grateful now that he did that. He was a great teacher.
Funny moments in radio (that are safe to share…believe me, there were a lot WKRP moments back in the day!) – Normally I would stand up to do radio because I’m always moving around, moving my hands. But on this one day, I decided to kick back. I had the microphone and I was talking, sitting in my chair, leaning back, with 2 of the chair legs up in the air, just “la da da la da da” when all of a sudden WHAP! My chair falls and I hit the floor! I just kept holding the mic and got back up, still talking, never missed a beat! One time I got locked out of the station while on the air. I ended up shimmying up a pipe to the second floor balcony and going in the emergency exit door!
I love radio. I especially love doing radio down here in the Keys. Because I know I’m talking to my friends when I’m on the radio. And that’s just amazing. I feel so connected to the listeners, my community. I’ve been doing the GNO (Girl’s Night Out) Radio Show for at least 15 years. I started doing the show with Jamie Hyman at Holiday Isle Rum Runners. Then I did it with Pam Godfrey at Pierre’s, and now with Terry Albury at the Green Turtle and it’s great. I love it.
In my personal life, I’m proud of my kids and how good they’ve done and where they’ve gotten to. I have a son, 22, and a daughter, 21. I had them when I was really young! I’m also very proud personally of the fact that I went back to school and just graduated with my BAS in criminal justice and a certification in Homeland Security. Going back to school older is a different experience. My kids are both in college and we’ve recently been at the same school. I think it’s really cool, but I’m not sure they think it’s all that great! I’ve been in school forever. I have a degree in communications; a degree in gemology…I just can’t stop learning. I want to say I’m graduated and I’m done, but we’ll see… I have a lot of options open to me at this point. I might continue on with a law degree. We have a lot of brilliant artists here in the Keys, but we also have a lot of people who want to fight and protect the people and the environment of the Florida Keys through legislature…by working on and changing legislation. I think I might like doing that. But no matter what else I do, I will always keep jewelry and radio in my life.
I want to be able to help. I want to find some way where I can help everyone. That’s one of the reasons I love radio is because I can put people together. It’s so magical to me that I can bring people together and then they start working together and good things are accomplished.
--GNO Radio Show is recorded live at Green Turtle Inn on Tuesday nights 6:00-7:00 p.m. and airs on SUN 103 FM--

Friday, October 2, 2015

Amanda Margraves, Tavernier

I was born in Florida but grew up in Michigan.  I lived in Georgia for about 3 years, and Belize for a while before coming to the Keys to work at the Wild Bird Center, where I worked until recently.

 I’ve been doing bird rescue for 15 years…so I’ve got just a little bit of experience!   I first got into animal rescue in college.  I found an injured squirrel, and after a long day of calling and calling different places, I was put in touch with a rehabber.  It was then I learned that people do this…people help wild animals.  And I knew right away that was what I wanted to do.  I was pre-vet, but I was like, no this is what I want to do, and I started volunteering the very next day.  I did get my bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Michigan.  But after that day, I knew what I wanted to do and I started volunteering, I did a lot of internships and just went all over doing everything I could.

I work primarily with birds.  However, when I was in Georgia, I had a personal rehab license and I was the only one in my county and surrounding counties with a license, so I had deer, I had fox, I had a flying squirrel get loose in my closet, I had a bat get loose in my bathroom, baby raccoons, you name it… because you know, I couldn’t turn anything down they would bring me.  I even had a baby alligator for a while.  It was southern Georgia so there was all kind of stuff!  I would rehab them and then let them go.

In Belize I did mainly the birds, but I also helped out with Wildtracks, which is a primate and manatee rehab center, so I also got experience with those.  It was a little bit stinky-er than birds, but it was interesting.  We did a lot of wild parrots in Belize, and parrots can be aggressive.  I had these 2 in an aviary right outside my room.  All one could say was “sombrero,” and the other said what sounded like “umbrella,” so we named them Sombrero and Umbrella.  They were so mean; to change out their food, we had to go in with trash can lids and open umbrellas, like shields, for protection.   I would be fighting them off, trying not to hit them, but at the same time I had to keep them off me…They could be so mean.  I remember one of them bit me right on the forehead.  That always sticks out in my mind as the moment when I thought “What the F am I doing?” standing there with that trash can lid fighting off parrots!

But I love it.  Doing rehab, there is never a dull moment.  It’s always something.  I remember one other time we rescued a vulture.  We got him back to the hospital, and he threw up on the intern.  There was a foot of some rodent, because he had been eating road kill.  It was all over her.  I’m just standing there with this volunteer and she’s just standing there with this paw thing, just looking at me.  It’s never a dull moment!

Another time, I received a call about a water bird wrapped in fishing line unable to fly, struggling and floating away from shore.  When I got there, he was too far from the dock to reach with a net and I could tell he could not keep his head up any longer and was drowning.  I asked someone to hold my phone and keys, jumped from the dock and swam out to him. I lifted his head out of the water and got the fishing line off his face so he could hold his head up on his own.   When I got to shore, a crowd of people had gathered and were clapping.  I looked down at the bird, all wet and tired, and thought, "I am soaking wet in my clothes because of you, Mister! Not them, you!"  Some people helped me onto shore and we carefully cut the fishing line off him. Everyone was very excited about the rescue and asking questions about the bird center and how to help, even received a few donations!  It was gratifying that people showed actual concern for a bird that they didn't have to. But, the look that bird gave me was all the gratitude I needed. I have been rehabbing for 15 years, and at this point, jumping into the water or climbing trees is no big deal to me.  What still gets me every time, no matter how many times I do it, is the look in the animal's eyes when they realize I am helping them.

And of course, every release makes me so happy.  Any time you get to release something it’s exciting.  One time we had a great white heron come in.  We actually had to jump into a canal and fish it out, at 10:00 at night in our pajamas.  It was a she, and she laid an egg the next day.  She had a bad leg, the joint was really messed up, but we decided to try and rehab her.  We had her for about 3 months, and it wasn’t improving, wasn’t improving.  We’re given a time limit by the feds, which we were approaching and the leg really wasn’t doing well.  One day I went outside to look for her, and there she was putting weight on the bad leg, and within 2 weeks she was fully healed.  Those are always my favorites.  When they come in and they are so messed up, so broken, and you think they won’t make it, but then they pull through and you get to release them.

But, they don’t all make it.  Rehab is hard.  A lot of people get burned out with rehab.  We call it “Compassion Fatigue.”  I have my days when I just cry and cry and think I don’t know how to keep doing it, how to keep going.  But most of the time, if I have a really tough day, like if a few animals come in and I have to euthanize them upon arrival, I have to take a step back and I tell myself that I just put them out of their misery.  Instead of them lying on the side of the road suffering, I was able to end their suffering humanely, and let them know there at the very end that someone cared, that they were cared for.  And then I have to remind myself there are other animals to help, and I need to suck it up, and I need to keep going.

I’m proud of the fact that I was able to continue Laura’s legacy at the Bird Center for the time that I did.  I’m proud of the improvements that I made.  We had the Federal Fish and Wildlife come in right before they let me go, and they said they had never seen the place look so good; they were so impressed.  And even though I’m no longer there, I can still be proud of what I did there, what I could do for Laura and the birds.

I will definitely continue working in bird rescue.  I don’t think I’m meant to do cats and dogs, don’t think I’m meant to be a normal 9-5 kind of person.  Bird rescue is my calling, so I’ll just see what happens next.  For the next month I’ll be in Belize doing all kinds of crazy stuff.  I’ll be working primarily with birds, but it’s a small group of rehabbers there, so we are also like a triage center, and sometime we might end up getting primates or something else in for a few days.  I had a baby armadillo living in my bathtub last time I was there!  I’m excited to go back!  It will be a lot of fun.
My goal is to help as many animals as I can.  I guess I’ll just see what comes next, where I end up.  But that is my goal; I want to help as many animals as I possibly can while I’m here.  I might end up in Canada or Africa or back to Belize… anywhere I can go to help the animals.  I hope to stay in the Keys, but I’m just going to go wherever my calling is.  Wherever it is, I’m sure it will be crazy and amazing.

I am passionate and have always been passionate about what I do.  No matter what happened or happens, there is no questioning the passion I have for what I do, and I try my hardest and do my best for the animals.  Bird rehab is my calling.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

John El-Koury & Alexa Wheeler - Freewheeler Realty

John El-Koury & Alexa Wheeler

Alexa – “What I think I am most proud of is that I started Freewheeler; the company wasn’t bought, it wasn’t inherited, it was me and we are still here!  I am proud that we have been in business since 1987 and are probably the oldest real estate company in the Upper Keys with the same management and the same owners. We have stability and we have history.

In 1982 my husband and I bought a second home in the Keys; we lived on Key Biscayne in Miami.  The house we bought was a duplex and my in-laws lived in the other half.  We really liked the Keys, so in the early 80’s we rented our house on Key Biscayne for the winter, and basically we never went back.

We were in the gas business in Miami and commuted, so we sold that and I went into real estate at Jerry Eagan’s.  (I had got my real estate license right out of college; I don’t know why, my friends and I just thought it would be fun.)  He was a crusty old guy who knew everything about everybody!  I started a vacation rental department but Jerry didn’t like vacation rentals, so one day he just told me ‘Alexa, I like you but I don’t like vacation rentals, if that is what you want to do you have to do it on your own’.  I had found out by then that vacation rentals was where my love lied, it was most dear to my heart.  I love bringing families to the Keys and making them happy!

I started Freewheeler Vacations.  My courage to go out on my own came from necessity.  I knew it was a viable business and I knew there was money in it.  There wasn’t anyone doing it full time.  I had some inventory, about 6 houses from working with Jerry, and I just grew from there!

I met John in 1989 when he walked into my office and announced he wanted to work with me.  My response was ‘What can you do?’  I told him he needed a license, to go and get it.  I thought I had blew that kid off, but he was back a few months later with his license!  We have been working together and building this company ever since!”

John – “I was born in New Jersey but my parents moved us to Miami when I was just a little guy.  After graduating from high school I attended Louisiana State.  I did a couple of years there but it wasn’t clicking for me and I was floundering around.  It was a great experience but it wasn’t working so in 1985 I joined the Coast Guard.  I attribute the Coast Guard for most of my success. The opportunity was phenomenal.  Most of my service was located in Lake Charles Louisiana at a Marine Safety Detachment.  Turned out to be a great experience.  It provided tremendous work experience, allowed me to expand my education and work with an outstanding group of people; some have remained close lifelong friends.  The job primarily consisted of port security and environmental protection. 

In 1989 my time in the Coast Guard was complete, so it was time to make a new career choice.  I decided to move to the Keys; since my family has always loved and vacationed in the Keys and by now had moved down fulltime, I figured it was a perfect destination.  Having participated in the Veterans Education Assistance Program (GI Bill) I put it to use commuting back and forth to Miami continuing my education.  This led me to where I am today.

In 1990 I met with Alexa, a family friend and neighbor, and asked to join her vacation rental business as a new associate.  I pursued my real estate license opening the door to yet another great opportunity.

My wife Sandy and I have two great girls, Cameron 13 and Brooke 10.  I can’t think of any better place to start a family and raise your kids.  The Keys has provided a wonderful life.

Alexa – “I remember, in the beginning, we did everything; we checked the properties, we did all the maintenance.  We didn’t have computers, we didn’t have cell phones, and we didn’t even have beepers.  We had a huge reservation book that we used markers in, every color meant something; green meant paid, etc.  It was a double booking nightmare!  I had to send our maintenance man (when we got one) out with a pocket full of quarters and he would have to find a pay phone to call us if he needed anything!  I had the first fax machine; they were $1600 back then!  That was high tech!” 

John – “Early on we realized this business had much more to offer.  I decided to get my Brokers license and we would pursue the sales market.

The beginning was a struggle due to the fact that we were well known and established as a leading vacation rental company; so in 1994 we aligned with Realty World providing assistance in the sales side of the business.  This worked for a while, however, now we are very excited to be affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio.  I am sure this new affiliation will provide the resources and support needed to excel in today’s market.

Over the past 25 years I have worked hard to establish ourselves as one of the Florida Keys leading real estate companies and I’m not ready to slow down now.  We have some of the best sales agents in the Keys and I am looking forward to our growing success together.

A funny story; Freewheeler was the name of Alexa’s boats.  Freewheeler means ‘wandering around aimlessly without purpose or direction’.  The agents don’t like that for a slogan!!  It was appropriate back in 89 when the Keys were even more laid back and free spirited, when it was more live and let live. 

We have a new marketing platform; Leading Real Estate Companies of the World which is a phenomenal platform; it gives us a tremendous amount of tools and resources.  The high end, properties of a million dollars and above, will fall under Luxury Portfolio.  Luxury Portfolio puts your property on 500 websites in 50 countries and 9 different languages.  Our new motto is ‘I am local, I am global.’  The most important part, however, is our clients still get to work with us, the local people.

We also just launched a concierge program; it is another level of service we can offer.  We can book excursions, shopping trips, whatever the customer would like; we can arrange it! 

We work as a team here, we try to keep it a family atmosphere.  We employ over 50 people and have 2 offices; Key Largo and Islamorada.  We have great agents.  The common thread of freewheeler is that we always pull together.  We have agents that have been with us for over 20 years.  We are a team; a family.  We still manage houses that we started with and we meet interesting and incredible people every day; from your average family wanting a vacation to the rich and famous like Hank Williams and Jimmy Buffet!  You just never know, and that adds to the fun!     

We primarily cover from mm 106 to Lower Matecumbe, but have properties as far south as Key West. 

We believe in being involved in the community; we host and cook the breakfast after the Key Largo Bridge Run, we are involved with the Conch Scramble, the Chamber, the Rotary, I am on the board at the Good Health Clinic; a whole list, we have a good program.  We like to contribute, jump in with both feet, and the bigger the ideas the better!  We like to do things right!  That is how Freewheeler rolls.

The partnership between Alexa and me is successful for many reasons.  I have enjoyed learning from and working with her over the years.  Our strengths lie in the role each of us plays.  Alexa’s strengths are in maintaining the company and ensuring our financial soundness allowing me to run a growing and profitable business.  This is more than a fulltime job with over 50 sales agents and employees and staying on top of today’s fast paced technology and constantly changing real estate climate.

One of the perks with Freewheeler was the opportunity to earn my pilots license and acquire a plane.  I have enjoyed this experience tremendously.”

Alexa – “The plane has afforded me the opportunity to spend time in a second home, a cabin near the Suwannee, and still keep in touch through electronics.  We have come a long way!”

John – “My motto is to start you day feeling sharp and ready to win.  Without this philosophy you have little chance of succeeding.  Some days you get beat up along the way; however the only way to end your day as a winner is to start that way.”

For more information or to contact Freewheeler Realty, visit their website:

This story was published in Keys Life Magazine, October 2015 edition.