Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

Published May 11 2017

Tampa General Hospital Foundation Gala

Everyone knows the Cowardly Lion got his courage and Scarecrow got a brain, but who knew 75 people a year get a ventricular assist device (VAD) implant at Tampa General Hospital, the first and biggest heart transplant center in the state. No. 421 was Bill Ismer who played piano at the Wizard of Oz gala Saturday as co-chairs Theo and Phil Carroll and Lesley and Fred Dobbins greeted witches, good and bad, Totos, Tin Woodmen and ruby-slippered guests in a sparkly Emerald City ballroom at the Hilton Downtown Tampa.

Top auction bid: $18,000 for a rare collection of cigars and bourbon. Two dinners for six sold well - $10,000 to dine with author Michael Connelly at Restaurant BT and $6,000 with the yet-to-be-hired hospital CEO at On Swann. "We're getting close," said TGH chairman of the board John Brabson, as the event raised nearly $600,000 for TGH's transplant center. The crowd danced to the Bay Kings and swooned over the Norman Love Confections chocolate bar.

Tropical Nights

Jimmy Buffet, the Beach Boys, Bob Marley... Tropical Night co-chairs Jason LeBlanc and Heidi Charpentier set a laidback, musical vibe to the annual auction party hosted by Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful to fund environmental programs from tree plantings to litter pickups to summer camp.

"It's like a networking happy hour for the best cause ever," said LeBlanc watching 700 guests drink Bahama Breeze beach drinks and sample restaurant buffets April 28 at TPepin's Hospitality Centre. Most raves: Snobachi Ice Cream and the giant scallops on banana polenta from Saddlebrook Resort. Between bites, the Hawaiian-shirted crowd (That was Rahul Mehra in the grass skirt) bid on plastic flamingos, buoys, rain barrels and a dock post, all painted by local artists, plus other cool stuff, to raise $100,000.

Wheels of Success

Thank you, Wheels of Success executive director Susan Jacobs for presenting Hub Cap Awards to the Tampa Bay Times and WFTS-Ch. 28 for inspiring readers and viewers to continue providing cars — more than 733 so far — to working people. Two cars were presented and $54,000 was raised (enough for 18 more cars) at the 11th annual Recognition & Appreciation of our Champions Event (RACE) at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC on April 28. Emcees Jack Harris and Deiah Riley introduced George Stieper who read about a woman who spends five hours a day taking buses to work and promptly sent off a check.

"Take the informative program books and be our advocates," urged Jacobs, to help reach the next goal, "our own auto repair facility."

H.B. Plant Museum Crescent Club

To thank its annual donors of $1,000 or more, Henry B. Plant Museum trustees recreated the dinner served guests staying at the former Tampa Bay Hotel on Feb. 22, 1932, which happened to be the 200th birthday of George Washington as well as one of the last meals before it became the University of Tampa with the museum in the original south wing. This time the Valley Forge salad and roast milk-fed chicken was catered by Mise en Place and served to Crescent Club members April 28 in the Grand Salon. Flowers grown in Plant Park added to the authenticity. Mayor Bob Buckhorn spoke of the value the National Historic Landmark building adds to the city.