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Amy Scherzer's Diary: Naomi Judd visits; GalaRE for art lovers; St. Jude; Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful

GalaRE and more at Tampa Museum of Art

Pat yourselves on the back, Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts volunteers, for showcasing incredible talent from near and far. Art patrons discovered attending the GalaRE cocktail party Saturday was the most fun way to meet "the best of the best"— the juror-selected winners celebrating at the Tampa Museum of Art. The 300 "artfully chic" guests and artists mingled over Capital Grille's leek soup, salsa and sliders, buying or selling eight of the 69 pieces on display for more than $11,500.

Earlier that week, the family of the late Carolyn Heller previewed a 30-piece retrospective of her vibrant artwork for fans of the frank, fun-loving artist. Friends keenly felt her absence as they swapped stories and enjoyed her favorite drinks, cosmopolitans and lemonade, and Southern specialities, pimento cheese, deviled eggs and cheese straws. Hurry, the exhibit can be seen through Sunday then purchased through the family's online gallery at carolynhellerart.com.

Around the World for St. Jude children's hospital

Tom and Holly Malouf wanted guests at their first Around the World tasting experience to eat, drink and care as deeply as they do about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The late entertainer Danny Thomas founded St. Jude with support of other Syrian-Americans, said Holly, who hosted Saturday's gala at the Straz Center on behalf of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities.

Belly dancers, a mariachi band and a barbershop quartet set a multicultural beat. Flags of 14 nations represented the global partners helping catastrophically ill children. International cuisine samples came from Byblos, Estelas, Hank's (Malouf's) Catfish, BBQ and More, Gio's Italian Grille and other eateries.

No family ever pays St. Jude for the care their child receives, said oncologist and board member Christopher George. And no child is ever turned away, added WFTS-Ch. 28 anchors Jamison Uhler and Linda Hurtado, introducing the Kiser family to share their "miracle" story. Auctioneer Cody Lowry's rallied bids and a "cash call," helping net more than $116,000.

Tropical Nights

Chilly temps nixed the usual Jimmy Buffett attire for Tropical Nights, but staging Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful's annual auction party at Tampa Port Authority's No. 6 lent a vacation vibe to the March 1 benefit. The 600 guests sampled dinner bites from more than a dozen restaurants, including Yummy House, Timpano's, Square One and Ellas. Among the more unusual of the 300 auction items were lunch with the Church of Scientology at Fort Harrison and a variety of handcrafted pottery, fused glass, stained glass and planters.

In the center of it all, the city's parks and recreation department created two delightful garden settings for photo ops. Sue House, who founded the event as Silverspoons and Sandcastles in 1992, was much missed.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful organized 600 projects for 12,000 volunteers to teach environmental responsibility last year.

Philanthropic Women of St. Joseph's

Country superstar, author, nurse and redhead personality Naomi Judd touched on strong friendships, surviving bad choices and dealing with low self-esteem in her talk, How to Have a Breakthrough, Not a Breakdown, at the annual Philanthropic Women of St. Joseph's luncheon. On the subject of accepting change, she shared her therapeutic motto: Shift happens.

Asked about her healthy lifestyle and two famous daughters during the Q & A with WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Gayle Sierens at the Feb. 28 luncheon at the Tampa Yacht Club, Judd joked, "I just hope to live long enough to see the day that Wynonna and Ashley don't blame me for all their problems."

Donna Jordan, co-founder of the $1,000-and-up annual contributors' group with Elaine Shimberg, made two promises: 100 percent of funds raised will go to the project they select. And some sort of chocolate dessert will always be served.

Events

Today: Andrea's Sip for Life benefits Moffitt Cancer Center.

7 p.m.; Tampa Bay History Center; $100; columbia

restaurant.com or (813) 248-3000, ext. 24.

Saturday: Bright House Networks Fashion Funds the Cure benefits Pediatric Cancer Foundation;

7 p.m.; Tampa Jet Center Hangar No. 4; $100; faster

cure.org or (813) 269-0955.

Saturday: Black, White & Brilliant gala benefits the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts; 8 p.m.; the Cube at Rivergate Plaza, 400 Ashley Dr.; $100 advance, $150 at the door; (813) 221-2222.

March 19: 2013 Women of Distinction luncheon benefits Girl Scouts of West Central Florida; 11:45 a.m.; A La Carte Event Pavilion; $75; gswcf.org/wod or (813) 262-1690.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Naomi Judd visits; GalaRE for art lovers; St. Jude; Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful 03/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 11, 2013 11:47am]

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