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St. Jude hospital finds many friends in Citrus

Tickets are still available for the 12th annual dinner show and awards presentation for the benefit of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The event takes place from 6 to midnight tonight in St. Anthony's Parish Hall in Brooksville.

Founded by entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is dedicated to helping children who have been stricken with catastrophic diseases and to finding cures that will prevent children from further suffering.

The Pasco/Hernando/Citrus Chapter of the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), Sunshine Chapter of Florida host this annual event to raise funds for this cause.

This is also a special project for advisory board member Joseph Dawson, owner of Jewels & Diamonds in Homosassa. "This is my pet charity," Dawson said in a telephone interview, "because I know that for every dollar raised, one dollar goes to the kids." He noted that there are three children from Citrus County now in treatment at St. Jude. "It doesn't cost them anything. We pay for all the costs, including the cost of parents staying with the child."

This year's event will honor both individuals and businesses who have strongly supported this non-profit charity. Dawson hastens to point out that all of the chapters, members, officers, advisers and local founder Vincent Tagliamonte are volunteers.

People attending the dinner will be entertained with big band music, singers, a professional tap dancer and local talent from the schools.

U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman also is scheduled to attend. She will be announcing the kickoff of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital "Treasure Box Raffle." The organization hopes to raise $100,000 over the next few months through the raffle. Dawson noted that "We (Florida) were No. 1 in the country last year in raising funds for St. Jude Hospital."

"We're trying to put up a genetics hospital," said Dawson, who has contributed an emerald and diamond ring for this raffle. It is one of several items in the raffle. Tickets will be sold a number of places, including Kash n' Karry stores throughout the tri-county area.

There also will be a raffle at the dinner, and it offers 15 prizes such as a sapphire and diamond ring, a Seiko watch, a gold chain, a cruise to the Bahamas and two airline ticket to anywhere in the United States. Tickets for the dinner are $50. Papa Joe's restaurant in Brooksville will be serving dinner.

"It's for the children," Dawson said. "It's very important that somebody crusades for them."

For tickets or information about the organization, contact Dawson at 621-0588. Hernando and Pasco residents can contact Vincent Tagliamonte at (904) 683-4113 or 686-7900.