Tuxes & Tails
Who could resist Event Show Productions showgirls samba-ing down the Tuxes & Tails catwalk carrying furry homeless pets? With Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister, family restaurateur/event co-chair Andrea Gonzmart and a dozen other "celebs" right behind them showwalking the bigger breeds on leashes.
Saturday’s Rio de Carnaval gala was huuggge for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay: huge crowd (more than 1,000; huge venue (Tampa Convention Center); huge moneymaker ($400,000.) Fox13 news anchors Cynthia Smoot and Russell Rhodes emceed as they have for a decade; Gabriel Butu, auctioneer for the third time, pitched dinner with George Clooney, a guitar of Tom Petty’s and other cool stuff. The lively celebration continued upstairs with deejay Arthur Lastras, complimentary cigars, Brazilian coffee and a flambe station while 31 pets were packed up to go home with their new owners.
"Big," 19th annual Art of Helping Children Gala
In the 1988 film, Big, Tom Hanks wished "to be big" and in a Hollywood instant, he was a grown-up. That doesn’t work in the real world where hundreds of kids wish for a mentor to care about their path to adulthood. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay borrowed the flick theme for Big, the Art of Helping Children, inviting guests to play pinball, ping pong and dance across a giant floor piano, tapping out Chopsticks just like Hanks, at the Oct. 13 gala at the Hilton Tampa Downtown.
Board member Brian Auld swiftly sought funds to match more Bigs (adults) with Littles (primarily kids from single or no-parent homes) in the seven-county chapter. Two new programs, Bigs in Blue police officers and school-to-work days, are already seeing vital results.
"I was a menace," said Don Patterson, recalling his Big Brother’s influence 50 years ago. "I would not be here today without him." His auction donations included a 100-year-old bottle of Spiritu Cognac (he wound up top bidder at $9,500) and a Sonoma Valley winery trip, bought by board member Tony Leavine for $10,000, helping the gala raise $400,000.
Eye Ball 2017
Drumroll, please, for "altruism and ocular science," as Eye Ball guests enabled 20 people to receive corneal transplants through the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research Foundation. Saturday’s Gala with International Vision honored Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, with the Visionary Award during dinner at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre. Fans cheered for the team’s $34 million in civic investments and 30,000 volunteer hours, most recently in Puerto Rico. "With much yet to come… perhaps a new ballpark," Sterling said. Two Rays packages donated to the live auction — a VIP road trip and luxury suite tickets for 16 — helped the event net $70,000.
Ophthalmologist Benjamin Lambright received the Innovation and Research Award for leading global medical missions. Then, boom, all eyes turned to Ravi Jakhotia, better known as DJ Ravi Drums, to rock the after party.