Cattle Barons' Ball
"One million dollars or bust," vowed Tod Leiweke, CEO of the Tampa Bay Lightning and co-chair, with wife Tara, of the 16th annual Cattle Barons' Ball. Tod, Matt Hawkins, Roy Hellwege, Sam Ellison, Trevor Burgess and four others bravely smooched a steer (black angus) to achieve that goal at the March 22 benefit for the American Cancer Society.
The Tampa Bay Times Forum filled with 750 blue-jeaned, Stetson-topped, tequila-swigging guests chowing lamb chops, crab cakes, shrimp, smoked pork and chocolate chip pie. Country singer Chris Cagle, whose mother is battling cancer right now, rocked one end; bales of silent auction items filled the other. Live auction bids included $2,500 from 12 couples to spend a weekend in Seattle with the Leiwekes.
Lymphoma survivor Shane Salyer, 13, inspired major donors, including Anthony and Julie Everett, Pam and Les Muma, Ellie Fishman and Richard and Gloria Giunta, who founded, lassos sponsors and rides herd on the country western bash since 1998.
Stepping Out gala for St. Joseph's Hospitals
Green was the theme of St. Joseph's Hospitals' Emerald Evening, from 180,000 greenbacks raised to the greens chief executive officer Isaac Mallah will tee-up on now that he's retiring.
Saturday's send-off benefit brought 500 guests to A La Carte Event Pavilion for the 20th anniversary gala, chaired by Carl and Lyda Lindell, capped by JT Taylor of Kool & the Gang rocking their 1980s hits Celebration and Ladies' Night.
A video tribute to Mallah told how an internship turned into a 36-year career. "I am truly humbled," he said, thanking the Franciscan sisters, medical staff and employees. "It's been a privilege and honor to lead this organization."
Girl Scouts' Women of Distinction/Promise
Since 1992, the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida have honored 310 Women of Distinction, including four announced March 19.
"Sense of duty is the thread that connects us to all of you," said Elise Minkoff, one of the 2013 honorees. Audacity as well, "to pursue impossible dreams," added honoree Robin Warren, director of the Florida Council on Economic Education.
Honorees Lorna Taylor, CEO of Premier Eye Care, and Dr. Judy Wilson, CEO of the Ocala Marion County Domestic Violence Shelter/Sexual Assault Center, offered their insights, too.
Echoing them all was the first Woman of Promise: Felicia Harvey, director of communications for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, representing under-35 achievers.
WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Gayle Sierens emceed at A La Carte Event Pavilion, but three-time Olympic gold medalist Brooke Bennett got to introduce Deborah Roberts of ABC's 20/20. In her worldwide reporting, she's seen how "women are more alike than different. We're industrious, vulnerable, brilliant, tenacious and very stressed out."
A teacher boosted her confidence, said Roberts. Her "steel magnolia … quiet feminist" mother didn't raise her and six sisters to be "bossy pants" in segregated Georgia.
Women "have the ability to change the world, if only we would believe it," she said as 700 guests dug into Girl Scout-cookie topped desserts. Luncheon chairwoman April Monteith's appeal for money to serve nearly 21,000 girls in eight counties helped net more than $100,000.