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Amy Scherzer's Diary

TGH Foundation dinner, Lions Eye ball, Hispanic heritage gala

Tampa General Hospital Foundation annual dinner

Epilepsy patient Roni-Kay Lopez shared her post-op success story with Tampa General Hospital Foundation board chairman Rick Kouwe and 260 supporters at the annual dinner Oct. 4 at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. Her excellent recovery is among the many reasons TGH recently drew national recognition. Said David Straz Jr., chairman of Florida Health Sciences Center, the hospital's governing board: "The rest of America discovered what we've known a long time."

Radiologist Bruce Zwiebel was installed as the new chief of staff. Orthopedic surgeon Bob Belsole was presented with the prestigious "Red" McEwen award for efforts toward the "betterment" of TGH. Volunteer of the year Darell Howton earned the Madeleine Gibbons Humanitarian award, presented by her son, the Rev. Robert Gibbons.

Straz, who heads the search for a successor to outgoing hospital CEO Ron Hytoff, expects a new chief within six months. "Ron was the right person at the right time," said Straz after the announcement of a hospital employee donor level called the Ron Hytoff Giving Society.

25th annual Tampa Hispanic Heritage Man & Woman of the Year gala

The 25 posters displayed at the Tampa Hispanic Heritage annual gala Saturday, including this year's by artist Gustavo Briceno, illustrate the endless contributions of Hispanic residents. This year's standouts: Hispanic Man and Woman of the Year, certified public accountant Gil J. Hernandez and general manager of the local Univision and Telefutura affiliates Lilly M. Gonzalez, who added yet another title to those of past-president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer of Tampa Hispanic Heritage Inc.

Havana-native Hernandez, a partner at CliftonLarsenAllen, is past chairman of the city of Tampa Housing Authority, the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Ybor City and many other organizations. A first generation Cuban-American, Gonzalez has served on the boards of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Rays Baseball Foundation community advisers, among others.

After reading a proclamation, Mayor Bob Buckhorn raved about the city's diversity as host of the RNC. "We told the world in one week what America is all about," he said before emcees Lissette Campos-Perez, WFTS-Ch. 28, and Gonzalo Alvarado, anchor Univision Tampa, rolled awardees' video accolades at the Hyatt Regency Tampa. Entertainment by Carlos Eduardo Rodriguez and Salsa Extreme ended the gala con mucho gusto.

Eye Ball, a gala with vision

All eyes locked on April Lufriu, Mrs. America 2011 and now Mrs. World 2012, describing the shock of learning that she and her children, Brandon, 13, and Savannah, 8, have a genetic condition, retinitis pigmentosa, which can lead to blindness. The diagnosis came two years ago, "all on the same day," the Lutz beauty told 340 guests at Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research's sixth annual Eye Ball. The pageants, said Lufriu, became her platform to improve the quality of life for the visually impaired.

Among Saturday night's honorees were ophthalmologist Lewis Groden, who helped grow the institute from a small volunteer group to the largest eye bank in the world. CEO Jason Woody also recognized Dr. Henry Edelhauser's micro-needle invention. Board chairman Michael O'Rourke and Lisa Butler emceed at TPepin's Hospitality Centre as the Vodkanauts set the beat for an international menu: Asian noodles passed in Chinese takeout boxes, Moroccan tagine and kebabs, then Italian tiramisu.

Hyundai dealer Scott Fink's challenge: Raise enough money for the institute to buy two cars for procuring eye tissue statewide and he would donate a third. With that appeal, the gala netted $120,000 … and three cars.


Today: Havana Nights sponsored by Professional Philanthropy Network to benefit six charities; 8 p.m.; Cuban Club; $80 online at

havananights or $90 VIP at the door; (813) 374-8835.

Sunday: SunTrust Island Night at Jackson's Bistro buffet, auction and casino party benefits LifePath Hospice; 5 to 8:30 p.m.; (813) 871-8111.

Monday: H.B. Plant Museum Society and the Chiseler's biannual fashion show; 11 a.m.; Hyatt Regency Tampa; $85; (813) 258-7302.

Wednesday: Key to the Cure kick-off shopping party; 5:30-8:30 p.m.; Saks; 2 percent of sales benefit Moffitt Cancer Center; $100; inside or (813) 745-4327.

Thursday: 2012 Freedom Fund Dinner benefits NAACP; 6 p.m.; DoubleTree by Hilton, 4500 W Cypress St.; $75; hillsborough or (813) 234-8683.

Oct. 19: Bridging Generations Breakfast benefits Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay; 7:30 a.m.; Renaissance Hotel, International Plaza; $50; (813) 932-5228, ext. 228.

TGH Foundation dinner, Lions Eye ball, Hispanic heritage gala 10/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 4:30am]
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