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Amy Scherzer's Diary: The Weekly Wrapup for Sept. 21

AMY SCHERZER | Times George Suter receives the Sue House Champion Teaching Tools honor from the award’s namesake herself at EmpowerED on Sept. 11.
Published Sep. 21, 2018

Lions Eye Ball: An Optical Illusion

If only Justin Sight could vanish corneal blindness, like the cards the legally-blind magician made disappear at the Eye Ball: An Optical Illusion, the 12th annual benefit for the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research Foundation which funds the processing and distribution of cornea tissue to those who cannot afford sight-saving surgery.

Saturday 's gala began atop the Tampa Airport Marriott with 360-degree view and appetizers from Roy's, Ava and Harpoon Harry's. Dinner and the magic show followed in the ballroom where CEO Jason Woody marked the organization's 45th anniversary.

"You can donate tissue through your driver's license and you can donate right here tonight," said auctioneer Sherry Truhler pitching a 52-card deck for $100 each; the winning cardholder getting to choose from the 10 packages in the live auction. Lucky Karen Santiago aced that "Best of" raffle and picked the New Orleans trip. Mystery Boxes sold for $50, $100 and $150, later revealed to be loaded with wine, hotel, restaurant and attraction gift certificates, helping to net $100,000 for the gratis ocular tissue program.

Fourth annual Beer and Bow Ties

Calls to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay nearly doubled in June when Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, said CEO Clara Reynolds at Beer and Bow Ties, an annual benefit to reinforce that fear, shame or stigma should never stop anyone from seeking mental health counseling.

Organizers more than doubled the ticket price this year to $100 and still easily filled the Orlo House and Ballroom in Hyde Park with 350 guests, mostly in the high-suicide demographic of 30 to 50ish, drawn to craft beers, intriguing cocktails restaurant bites and the vital message. Event co-founder Brent Kraus chose the sartorial theme in memory of his bow tie aficionado brother Matthew; Laurence Hall sponsored the Sept. 14 benefit in memory of his son Spencer.

EmpowerED luncheon

Hillsborough Education Foundation president Kim Jowell and Steinbrenner High senior Christian Bermudez kicked off EmpowerED (formerly known as the Teaching Tools luncheon) with a math lesson: $28 million in school supplies since 2002, more than $3 million to 174 schools last year. That includes 6 million pencils, not counting those forming the clever sunflower centerpieces on each table Sept. 11 at Armature Works. HEF averages 312 college scholarships annually and pairs 350 students with mentors.

Superintendant Jeff Eakins shared uplifting accomplishments despite dismal state resources, noting that Florida ranks 44th in education funding in the country. So vote yes Nov. 6, urged Jowell, to approve a half-cent local sales tax referendum.

Board chairwoman Kim Thresher presented the Sue House Champion award to George Suter for volunteering more than 2,500 hours over 11 years. Teacher David Seis and Memorial Middle School eighth grader Day'Nay Oates added their thanks as the event raised nearly $100,000.


  1. A Brinks security guard and a Good Samaritan who came to his aid were shot during a robbery attempt at GTE Financial credit union in Brandon on Friday. Tony Marrero, Times Staff
    The search continued into the evening Saturday for the shooter, who is believed to be a serial bank robber.
  2. Lawanda Ravoira, DPA, president & CEO, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, said girls are subject to an alarming rate of violence and bullying and are not getting the help they need from counseling and other social services. CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL  |  Times
    Leader of Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center comes to Tampa to warn of “unchecked crisis” of violence and victimization of middle and high school girls.
  3. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The motorcycle was headed south on Dale Mabry, while the northbound bus was making a turn.
  4. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The shooting happened on the 1600 block of E North Bay Street.
  5. "Lefty Lucy, Righty Tighty?", Siomara Bridges-Mata, 32, asks her coworkers as they assemble one of 900 bikes Friday when Amalie Arena transformed into Santa's Bike Shop. Bridges-Mata volunteered with Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Inc. JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times
    Local nonprofit Onbikes organizes the annual bike build to provide bicycles to kids in the community
  6. Service dog Eleanor Rigby unexpectedly gave birth to eight puppies at Tampa International Airport as her human family was waiting near gate F81 to board a flight to Philadelphia in May 2018. The airport is getting ready to add pet-relief areas at its airsides for service dogs. (EMILY NIPPS | Tampa International Airport) Tampa International Airport
    Work on the new amenities is expected to be completed by next July.
  7. Mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday said he will not allow the Tampa Bay Rays to explore splitting their season between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal prior to the 2027 expiration of the team's lease of Tropicana Field. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    Politicians on both sides of the bay weigh in on St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s decision to cease talks with the team.
  8. Tampa police say the suspect who struck 58-year-old Denorris Singleton in the head with a baseball bat during a dispute on N 29th Street in East Tampa on Nov. 23 fled the scene in this white sedan. Singleton died from his injuries six days later. Tampa Police Department
    Denorris Singleton, 58, died six days after he was struck, police said.
  9. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has made climate change a priority in Tampa. On Friday, she joined a national mayoral group dedicated to tackling the issue. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa’s mayor joins St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman with high-profile post on the climate crisis.
  10. Noah Shaffer of Confidant Asset Management says the restaurant sector in the Tampa Bay area has done well in 2019 and to expect more openings in the coming months. Chick-fil-A Brandon South opened earlier this year.
    So far, the economy appears robust enough to support further expansion, says a local industry professional.