Tampa Bay's Dancing with the Stars
"Grueling and wonderful,'' said Sarah Jon Porreca, grand champ of Tampa Bay's Dancing with the Stars 2011, describing learning to fox-trot with Michael Housel of Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Housel estimates the company donated $50,000 worth of lessons to get the 13 contestants prepped for the dance-off sponsored by Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay at TPepin's Hospitality Centre on Oct. 1.
Between dinner, auctions and dazzling, spinning and swinging dance sequences, 450 guests voted for their favorite, averaging $10 a ballot. The final tally was tight between Porreca and runner-up Kelly Feldman, with Jillian Thompson in third place. Jon Gliem won the People's Choice award. Ken Lucci was Best Male dancer and Katie Busciglio earned Best Female dancer, according to judges Jim and Suzanne Carter and Maria Magill, owner of Designs to Shine, who lent the women barely-there dance costumes.
"It was so much fun, but quite a commitment,'' said Dr. Linda McClintock-Greco, cheering the other six stars: Natalie Cacciatore, Dexter Jackson, Cheryl Landon, Ken Lucas, Laura Maiocco and Gina Midyett. Proceeds of $150,000 will be divided in thirds between Hands Across the Bay, Kid's Charity of Tampa Bay and Pepin Academies.
LifePath Hospice's SunTrust Island Night
It has been 20 years since Friends of Hospice played host to its first fundraising party to help Hospice of Hillsborough offer end-of-life care.
"We were a small but mighty group,'' said Connie Boos, one of the original organizers of the event that exploded into LifePath Hospice's annual SunTrust Island Night at Jackson's Bistro. Connie and husband, Fred Boos, were honorary chairmen Oct. 2, celebrating with 550 supporters on Harbour Island.
"When my parents died 20 days apart in 1984,'' Connie said, "Hospice literally saved me."
Guests dove into a tropical buffet of sushi, shrimp, poached salmon, raw oysters and more, plus lots of wine, at the waterfront restaurant, They tried their luck at casino tables, shopped for donated items at Life's Treasures boutique and jammed into the "Whale Room" for the auction.
Auctioneers Alan Bridges and Jack Harris teased fan loyalty, selling three dog houses painted in Gator, Bulls and Rays colors, all made by Rick Lentz, event chairman for the fourth year. They got Scott Boos' bid up to $1,900 for a watercolor Madi Rodriguez painted at Camp Circle of Love for grieving children. By night's end, guests pledged to send 75 more kids to the annual weekend grief camp.
15th annual Night of the Iguana
Three years ago, Brianna Blanchard's Make-A-Wish dream came true: She got to meet the Jonas Brothers. The 11-year-old sang her appreciation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida at Night of the Iguana. The 350 guests applauded while sampling fine wine and bites from Aqua, Bistro Bleu, Maggiano's Little Italy, SoHo Sushi, Brio Tuscan Grille, Texas de Brazil, Seasons 52 and other restaurants serving their best at Mainsail Suites on Sept. 30.
Emcee Ian Beckles drummed up auction sales with help from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cheerleaders. Also lending support: former Buc couples Martin and Ashlee Gramatica and Marcus and Bethany Jones.
Bidding really steamed up when four women teamed up to pay $1,000 for Happy Hour at Ocean Prime with personal trainer Nick Peterson, who recently competed on ABC's The Bachelorette. That raised net proceeds to $84,000, which will fulfill 12 wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, said Lisa Andrews, regional director for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.