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Rays and some strong children wow the crowd

Dream Child Atiana Baez, left, mugs for the cameras with Rays catcher Hank Conger while modeling for Rays on the Runway, a benefit for the Children’s Dream Fund on June 29.

DAVID W DOONAN | Special to the Times

Dream Child Atiana Baez, left, mugs for the cameras with Rays catcher Hank Conger while modeling for Rays on the Runway, a benefit for the Children’s Dream Fund on June 29.

At the advice of former social columnist Lennie Bennett, I am making a request for the upcoming social calendar at the top of my column instead of the end.

"Because not everybody reads to the end," Bennett reminded me. Alas, journalists know that all to well, but sometimes forget.

So please submit information about any fundraising event your charitable organization is hosting from September through summer 2017. Even if you don't have all the details nailed down, just send the date electronically or via good old-fashioned pen, paper and stamp by July 29.

You may use the following link to submit your information online: Type it into your browser or click on the link in the online version of this column.

You may also email details of your event, including the sponsoring organization, date, time, venue (with street address), admission price and publishable contact information, to Katherine Snow Smith at [email protected] Or send by regular mail to: Tampa Bay Times Social Calendar, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.


Barely two hours after beating the Red Sox, Rays players, coaches, wives and girlfriends thrilled a soldout crowd and some strong kids at the Rays on the Runway fashion show benefiting the Children's Dream Fund.

Since its inception 10 years ago, the event has raised close to $600,000 to help the Children's Dream Fund make dreams come true for seriously ill children living on Florida's West Coast.

This year's event brought in $125,000 to provide special experiences for sick children and their families.

The Rays didn't appear winded in the least from their big game. They were high energy on the runway at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, cheering on kids who walked with them and making goofy poses with their wives, girlfriends and solo. Everybody was styled in fashions from Dillard's.

The fundraiser is a signature gala put on annually by the Rays Wives organization, which includes players' spouses and significant others. It gives Rays fans the chance to meet favorite players, get autographs and bid on auction items.

A few Rays auctioned off baskets filled with some of their favorite things. Kevin Kiermaier showed he hasn't opted for champagne and caviar since going pro. His basket included Busch Light beer and a favorite movie, Varsity Blues.

Jake Odorizzi's favorite snack, Double Stuf Oreos, and movies, Shawshank Redemption and The Sand Lot, were in his auction basket.

Evan Longoria's wife Jaime suggested he put Girl on a Train in his basket. He likes that book a lot but said his favorite read is Into Thin Air. He also threw in some shoes he designed, Beats, and a chance to hang out for 45 minutes in the batting cage. It went for $10,000.

Kids who stole the crowd's hearts included: Benjamin Cruz, 4, Jackson Carter, 10, Tristan Wombacher, 8, Sofia Anderson, 3, Haley Boyd, 9, Alejandra Mejia, 12, and Atiana Baez, 10.

The planning and anticipation of a dream day helps makes the time in hospital beds go by a little easier. The time away at Disney World, on a cruise, swimming with dolphins, snow skiing or at a dude ranch, allows the children and their families to focus on something besides white blood cell counts and medical costs for a little while.

The average dream costs $3,500. The memories are priceless. There are currently 65 kids on the waiting list for dreams.

Contact Katherine Snow Smith at [email protected] Follow @snowsmith.

Rays and some strong children wow the crowd 07/12/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 5:26pm]
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