Amy Scherzer’s Diary: Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

The St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Heroes Ball, Karamu gala to benefit ZooTampa at Lowry Park and the 61st annual Tampa Bay Heart Ball.
Published April 18

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Heroes Ball

A Journey to Candy Land sweetened the lives of pediatric cardiac patients raising $550,000 at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation’s annual Heroes Ball. Pediatric cardiac surgeon Stephen Langley will use the funds for a virtual reality surgical planning tool for St. Joe’s Children’s Heart Institute.

Gala co-chairs April and Lou LaCava played off the Candyland board game (invented to amuse kids recuperating from polio) with clever candy centerpieces and bubblegum music. The tasty theme didn’t sugarcoat 2019 Community Hero Dr. Kiran C. Patel’s global healthcare contributions. “Anyone can donate money but your time tonight makes everyone in this room a community hero,” he told the 650 guests April 13 at the Hilton Downtown Tampa.

Foundation Board member Laurice Hachem pledged $100,000. Cherie and Harvey Schonbrun and Deanna and Howard Bayless each pledged $25,000 as did the LaCavas. Baylesses added a $10,000 auction bid to visit LaCava’s U. S. Virgin Islands villa before Jessie’s Girls rocked a sugar rush to the dance floor.

Karamu XXXIII, A Night in Key West

ZooTampa at Lowry Park’s first baby koala and a newly-hatched penguin chick got their names from auction bidders Kim and Rod Stohler and Lowry Park Zoological Society board chairwoman Marylou Bailey at Karamu, the $1,000-ticket, black-tie gala that has raised more than $3 million in the last 30 years. Others among the 300 guests bid up “art” by elephants and panthers, a Pebble Beach golf vacation and more, netting more than $450,000 for animal care and conservation.

Co-chairs Katie and Alex Sullivan’s colorful welcome set a laid back, “Night in Key West” vibe for the Surf and Turf dinner (Karamu translates from Swahili as feast or party) and dancing to the Frequency band April 13.

61st Tampa Bay Heart Ball

Who can resist the Village People, dressed to delight the 61st annual Tampa Bay Heart Ball with their greatest hits. The ‘70s disco band, provided by American Heart Association board member Bill Edwards, beat like a healthy heart at the Marriott Water Street on March 30. The fun flashback fit co-chairs Rose and Paul Reilly’s “Gift of Time” theme, reminding the 500 guests that cardiovascular disease has its own clock. St. Petersburg College student Maddie Price agreed, noting in her donor appeal that she was 9 days old when she had her first heart surgery. Florida Sen. Aaron Bean clocked in as auctioneer, pitching pricey outings and pushing proceeds to $2.5 million.