With an afternoon win against the Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays players were cheerful in the evening, beaming on the runway as they posed for a charity fashion show to benefit the Children's Dream Fund and the Rays Baseball Foundation.
Rays on the Runway, presented by Tampa's Nordstrom International Plaza and the Rays Wives, began with guests bidding on silent-auction items, nibbling hors d'oeuvres and rubbing elbows with baseball celebs. Dream Fund officials, including executive director Cynthia Lake, welcomed arriving patrons.
Debra Redmond, the Tampa Nordstrom store manager, and Dick Crippen, Rays senior adviser, kept commentary informative and lively as the fashion show unfolded. Even the team's top brass got into the groove: with president Matt Silverman and newlyweds Robin and Andrew Friedman taking the stage. Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president for baseball operations, and Robin Hochman were married in Puerto Rico in January.
Guests seated near the runway also got to see Carlos and Pamela Pena, Lance and Jamie Cormier, James and Ryane Shields, Ben and Julianna Zobrist, Gabe and Lisa Kapler, Pat and Michelle Burrell, Dioner and Sherely Navarro, Grant Balfour, Brian Shouse, Fernando Perez and Dan and Stephanie Wheeler.
Stephanie Wheeler, who is the daughter of Rays broadcaster Dewayne Staats, led the fashion show committee.
"Inspire Life, Breathe Free," presented by the American Lung Association, filled the ballroom at the Safety Harbor Resort & Spa for a fundraising luncheon that could not have left anyone in the crowd bereft of inspiration.
Keynote speaker Dr. Charmaine Carter spoke of her own health challenges. The physician last year embarked on an exercise and weight-loss program after having reached 329.5 pounds. In a charming and sometimes funny presentation, she said has lost 108.5 pounds toward her goal weight of 170. Her husband, John, has lost nearly 60 pounds, she said, and they expect to participate in the Disney Marathon next January.
Additional presenters included Michael Hoffman, board president of the Gulfcoast Area chapter of the American Lung Association; Dr. Janine Myelett, pulmonologist with the Lung Center in Bradenton; and Lisa Lynn Williams.
Every model had a story to tell, regardless of whether it had to do with her own struggles with lung disease or those of ones dear to her. Fashion show participants were Allah Bogdanovich, Tamara Bradley, Phyllis Busansky, Allene Carney, Melissa Conrad, Kathy Deliseo, Brittany Gripe, Viann Guzman and Pari Miller.
The event committee included Mary Kay Foody, Rosemary Fiuliano, Flor Hernandez, Christie Pratt, Carmen Varea and Lisa Marie Begerow. Fashion show coordinators were Debra DeCaria and Pamela Waltz, with featured styles from Cache in Countryside Mall, and Designs to Shine from Michelle Butler.