There was sobering news at the end of 2014: More than a half-million households in the Tampa Bay area can't afford the cost of basic living. Against that backdrop, the generosity of those who are able to help others shines brightly. It takes clear vision and a real belief in charitable giving to keep the organizations that mend the rough edges of our society in working order. The personal commitment demonstrated by these givers and doers has not gone unnoticed. Supporting social causes at social occasions restores my belief that Tampa will remain a wonderful place to live for generations to come. We start the new year with a glance back at last year's generous charity scene.
Photos by AMY SCHERZER | Times
Philanthropic faces of 2014, clockwise from upper left:
Philanthropists extraordinaire: Pam and Les Muma, here supporting the Broadway Ball at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 18, deserve a standing ovation for supporting myriad causes, including donating $25 million to the University of South Florida College of Business, which now bears their names.
Hottest headliner: Sherre and Jeff Smith of Bloomin' Brands met singer Josh Groban at the Starlight Gala, An Evening in New Delhi, to benefit Florida Hospital Foundation on Nov. 9 at Amalie Arena.
Unsinkable speaker: USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy fall symposium speaker Diana Nyad, left, impressed co-founder Carol Morsani with her never-quit zeal Oct. 17 at A La Carte Event Pavilion.
Most personal: Alison Avery, who has the neuromuscular disorder Friedreich's ataxia, and her dad, Paul Avery, put time, energy and love into finding a cure at the sixth FARA Energy Ball, raising a whopping $1.6 million Sept. 6.
Biggest bucks: Moffitt Cancer Center's annual Magnolia Ball perennially tops the fundraising chart. Tech Data CEO Bob Dutkowsky and his wife, Lorraine, raised $3 million May 3 at A La Carte Event Pavilion. The 2015 co-chairs Don and Mary Anne Shula aim to exceed that with musical help from Earth Wind & Fire on April 18.
Well -dressed: Tampa Museum of Art drew a palette of the most trendy donors to CITY: Fashion + Art + Culture, its annual Neiman Marcus fashion show, including Caitlin Martini, left, Margo Heilbronner and Penny Vinik on Sept. 19.
BoLLYWOOD BASH: Children Without Borders founders Vick and Sharmila Seth hosted movie stars and locals at a lively Bollywood benefit for their global foundation April 25 at Oxford Exchange.
Tough act to follow: On Feb. 28, Gloria Giunta, founder and chairwoman emerita of the Cattle Barons' Ball, raised $1.1 million at her 17th — and last — country western bash for the American Cancer Society. The hoedown returns to Amalie Arena on Sept. 12.