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Amy Scherzer's Diary: Pepin Heart Institute, Tampa Garden Club woo Valentines; Easter Seals struts A Pair to Remember

Easter Seals' A Pair to Remember

Sandals, stilettos, deck shoes — shoes for every occasion were up for bid at A Pair to Remember, the Feb. 15 benefit for Easter Seals Florida. The 180 already well-heeled women (and dozen men) sipped champagne during an hour of hair and massage pampering at the Tampa Yacht Club. Lunch followed in a sunny tent where 10 men, including firefighter Ralph Alvarez and lawnscaper Chris Bowen, served up silver platters of shoes paired with gifts and trips. Jen Holloway auctioned 10 shoe packages, averaging bids of $1,000 each, topping out with $2,700 from Gail Chibani for Burberry wedge sandals, a week in a Bahamas condo for 10 people donated by Joy Murray and a $1,300 airfare voucher from Anthony Sullivan.

Sponsor Helen Price was unable to attend, but her family shared their history of parenting advocacy for special-needs children. Lucky Barbara Volpi bought the $50 "key" that unlocked a $5,000 necklace and ring, donated by David Alexander Jewelry. Silent and live auctions and selling 60 "keys" helped the $125-ticket luncheon net more than $60,000.

Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute's Valentine's Day gala

Cardiologists Les Miller and Chuck Lambert, philanthropist Tom Pepin and chief operating officer Brigitte Shaw romanced Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute lovers at Heart of Havana, a Valentine's Day gala. Guayabera-wearing men and mostly red-dressed women (co-chairs Marilyn McPhail and Lauren Pepin wowed) dined as if they were in an elegant restaurant, ordering from a menu of four entrees and a dozen wines and beers. The Columbia restaurant lent its 1905 Salad recipe for the Latin theme.

Pianist Margot Freire's love songs enchanted the 325 guests at TPepin's Hospitality Centre. Novu Entertainment livened up the sparkling LED dance floor with salsa, flamenco and … Hula Hoops.

Fifth Third Bank regional president Brian Lamb was pleased to be a $25,000 sponsor, helping net $150,000 to buy Get Well Network technology to enable patients to manage personal data, medical education and staff communication. Lamb was especially excited about volunteer opportunities for bank employees.

For the Love of a Garden

Do you feel the new energy, asked Missy Weiner, welcoming the Valentine's Day crush arriving at For the Love of a Garden. The Tampa Garden Club president flowered praise on architect Stephen Smith for redesigning the wedding garden to maximize capacity of the Bayshore Boulevard grounds.

Emcee Jane Hardin introduced a country twist to the annual buffet and auction: Margo Anderson singing all of Patsy Cline's honky-tonk hits. "I heard Margo in Cedar Key," said Connie West, "and asked her to perform for us tonight."

Silent auction standouts: pique assiette garden decor, mosaics of hand-cut shards of vintage china made by Carole Guyton, Shirley Prince, Jenifer Ownby and Becky Savitz. Bids added greatly to the proceeds for the 10 garden club circles under the Tampa Federation of Garden Club Circles umbrella.

Death by Chocolate

Beyoncé would have sung to All the single ladies … oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. But Belinthia Berry and emcee Ed Narain used chocolate to entice auction bids at a delicious new fundraiser for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Death by Chocolate: A Decadent Dessert Affair at the Tampa Club offered chocolate-covered everything— marshmallows, cherries, ice cream, brownies, cakes and much more. When the sugar rush kicked in, bachelors and bachelorettes stepped up to raise money for the group's educational programs.

Thaddeus Bullard, better known as WWE superstar Titus O'Neil, was snapped up by MarQuisia Johnson. Marcus Elkins bid for Charisse Rome, and a few minutes later Charisse bid for him. Things heated up when Navy Cmdr. Darryl Adams, posed and flexed to get a top bid from Berdina Bonds.

"It's just for fun, just for charity," said Narain as the chapter's supporters paired off and introduced themselves.


March 1: Tropical Nights auction (formerly SilverSpoons & Sandcastles) benefits Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful; 7-11 p.m.; Tampa Port Authority Cruise Terminal No. 6; $100; keeptampa or (813) 221-8733.

March 2: Around the World tasting experience benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; 7-11 p.m.; Straz Center for Performing Arts; $150; (813) 868-2700.

March 9: Bright House Networks Fashion Funds the Cure benefits Pediatric Cancer Foundation; 7 p.m.; Tampa Jet Center Hangar No. 4; $100; or (813) 269-0955.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Pepin Heart Institute, Tampa Garden Club woo Valentines; Easter Seals struts A Pair to Remember 02/21/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:54pm]
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