Talk was all about the Tampa Bay Rays, but another athlete, Florida wide receiver Louis Murphy Jr., an Eagle Scout from St. Petersburg, was a hometown celebrity at the 11th annual Distinguished Citizens Award Banquet, held in the Coliseum.
The event celebrated four honorees: Beth Houghton and Scott Wagman, community leaders who are married to each other; Joel Momberg; and Ed Schatzman.
Houghton, a lawyer and certified public accountant, is vice president of Houghton-Wagman Enterprises and has extensive public service accomplishments, including serving with All Children's Health System, Suncoasters, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg Free Clinic, American Red Cross, Florida Blood Services and First Presbyterian Church. She chairs the board of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Center. She and Wagman have been major contributors to Great Explorations, now known as Great Explorations, the Houghton-Wagman Children's Museum.
Wagman, a real-estate entrepreneur, is president of My Buyers Win and Houghton-Wagman Enterprises. He has had leadership roles in business and civic organizations including Canterbury School of Florida, American Stage and the Suncoast Ronald McDonald House and has completed the Council of Neighborhood Associations Leadership Class and Pinellas Citizen University.
Momberg, executive vice president of the All Children's Hospital Foundation, has been with All Children's for 29 years. In 2009, he will become president of the University of South Florida Foundation. His numerous civic roles include Suncoasters, Shorecrest Preparatory School, and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Schatzman, senior vice president of automotive services for AAA Auto Club South, lives in Pasco County and serves on the board of directors of the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg. An Eagle Scout, he has had numerous leadership roles in scouting and is a life member of Optimist International.
A $5,000 Hubert "Bud" Rutland III scholarship was awarded to Eagle Scout Marquis Dendy, an audio production student at the International Academy of Design and Technology in Tampa.
Dr. Al Geiger and Mary Evertz co-chaired the dinner, which raised money for urban Scouting programs.
ALPHA House of Pinellas County raised more than $40,000 at its annual gala, held in the St. Petersburg Coliseum. About 250 guests attended the event.
The Roy J. Deeb service award, named for the founder of the charity, went to Norm Dusseault, recognizing his extensive service to the community.
ALPHA House provides housing and support services to homeless pregnant women and teens, new mothers with infants, and those experiencing crisis pregnancies.
He was 23, a graduate of the University of Oregon, drafted by the Green Bay Packers. In his rookie season, he was diagnosed with cancer and didn't know whether he would live to play professional football at all.
Today, Josh Bidwell is 32, in his 10th season in the National Football League, a punter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In a keynote address to supporters of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, he said: "There was potential in me that I didn't know I had. I can tell you that hope is a powerful tool."
Hope is what the Free Clinic offers to numerous clients in its programs, which include food, health, residential and extensive other services. Executive director Jane Egbert said current economic trends mean greater demands on the agency.
Soup's On, which drew more than 400 attendees, made more than $25,000 for those efforts. The soup and bread luncheon featured food donated by Mazzaro's Italian Market and Bon Appetit at Eckerd College, served by students from Shorecrest Preparatory School in the Campus Activity Center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
Mary Wyatt Allen chaired the event, and Aegon was the presenting sponsor.