New York Yankees Boys & Girls Club luncheon
The New York Yankees continued their winning tradition by raising $295,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay at the 13th annual team luncheon March 19.
All told, said co-sponsor Eddie Gomez, general manager of Ferman Motor Car, the $250-per-ticket event has brought in $2.5-million for 21 clubs serving 8,500 kids. Some of those dollars will help build the largest club and summer camp in the country near the Florida State Fairgrounds, added Hal Steinbrenner.
Every Yankee, from A-Rod to Yogi, signed autographs for a half-hour for 750 guests at the Marriott Waterside. Fans bought more memorabilia at the silent auction, including Ed Palaez's $3,900 bid for the New York vacation with airfare, hotel and box seats for a three-game series.
Watching a video of the Yankees' "aura and mystique" brought goose bumps; so did hearing Janelle Lang, 18, sing the national anthem and Ray Quan Johnson, 11, close the program. It was an emotional day for two "bosses": Boys & Girls Club president Roy Opfer retired this week, handing the reins to Brad Baumgardner. Benefactor George Steinbrenner teared up when he received a standing ovation.
Tampa Bay History Center
It's hard to say which was rosier, the gorgeous sunset or the Tampa Bay History Center's progress report presented at the annual meeting aboard the Yacht StarShip on March 20.
Members cruised by the waterfront construction site behind the St. Pete Times Forum to see "history in the making.'' After dinner and drinks, they docked and heard former Gov. Bob Graham reflect on preserving the past.
The crowd liked the symbiosis of a partnership with the Columbia Restaurant, subject to city/county approval. Owner Richard Gonzmart said the restaurant will run the museum's cafe, designed to resemble the 100-year-old Spanish landmark, and cater special events.
University of South Florida grad student Thomas Foley received the Leland Hawes Essay Prize, named for the gracious Tampa Tribune reporter who has taught me so much about journalism.
On Monday, the history center will close its Franklin Street preview center to prepare for the new museum's opening in December.
Celebrity Dancing for the Spring of Tampa Bay
Philanthropic footwork helped attorney Steve Yerrid win Celebrity Dancing in Tampa Bay, the $1-per-vote "reality show" organized by the daytime auxiliary of the Spring of Tampa Bay to help victims of domestic violence.
Eight local notables paired up with professional dancers March 20, but among 600 guests, Yerrid's fans' donations paid his way to the top and helped raise $90,000.
"And they say Florida can't hold an election,'' joked WFTS-Ch. 28 anchor Brendan McLaughlin to co-emcees, former Tampa Bay Buc Mark Royals and actor/dancer Victoria Regan. Royals and McLaughlin competed last year and couldn't resist joining this year's finale to dance a number from Grease.
After months of practice, Yerrid surprised himself dancing the Hustle with Ashley Novak. Frank Sanchez tangoed a la James Bond with Laurie Collett. WTSP-Ch. 10 anchor Ginger "Rogers" Gadsden merengued with Kiril Arsov. Suzette Berkman teased a witty foxtrot with Richard Collett. Michael Stewart kicked a country-western swing with Julie Meyerovich.
WFLA-Ch. 8's Katie Coronado tangoed with Tim Mason. WFTS-Ch. 28's Wendy Ryan's hip hop cha-cha with Tommy DiTommaso showed she teaches spin classes and has no cellulite. Former Miss Tampa Charleene Closshey knocked our socks off in a rumba, cha-cha and samba medley with Sid Pocius. Two dancers were missed: WQYK-FM 99.5 DJ Chad Brock came to say he pulled a muscle. Ken Walters claimed an "unavoidable happenstance." A pair of wheelchair dancers and pros showed off moves before the patron's dessert dance party on the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center waterfront.