1. News

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

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and his wife, Renee, from left, dine with Tampa Bay Heart Ball co-chairs Nina and Trey Traviesa on April 30 at the Marriott Waterside.
Published Jun. 1, 2016

Tampa Bay Heart Ball

Jaws dropped, hearts nearly stopped at the Tampa Bay Heart Ball when the bid reached $55,000 for a one-week vacation at a 15th-century villa in Florence, Italy, donated by Jarrett and Veturia Preston on behalf of Obsidian International. Real estate developer Bob Schmidt made the bid, surely a local record, even though the package didn't include airfare or food. Elated co-chairs Trey and Nina Traviesa celebrated their 16th anniversary raising $1.3 million for the American Heart Association.

Bids continued to soar, including $16,000 for a weeklong catamaran voyage and a seven-night Mediterranean cruise donated by Tom and Lauren Pepin sold twice for $19,000. The official Red Sofa went to Debbie and Lee Arnold for $12,000. Clearly, the auctioneers, Florida Sen. Aaron Bean, R-District 4, and retired broadcaster Don Germaise earned their dinners Saturday at the Marriott Waterside. WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Stacie Schaible emceed for 650 guests as the Aerial Dragons acrobats performed high above the $500-ticket gala.

An arresting video of Charlie Curtis, 17, surviving a heart attack at Plant High two years ago opened the "Charlie is Why" donor appeal. "We forget it happens to young people," said his mother, Lisa, before DJ Bash lured dancers to the after-party at the far end of the ballroom.

13th annual Fashion Funds the Cure

Every day, more than 40 children are diagnosed with cancer, making the dozen cherished patients on the Fashion Funds the Cure runway all the more inspiring. Another 50 fashion show alumni in remission joined them Saturday in a Port Tampa cruise terminal packed with nearly 1,000 National Pediatric Cancer Foundation supporters. Chairmen Christopher Carrere, Jay Langford, Jeff Maxwell and Alex Sullivan pulled the crowd from the busy bars and stand-up hors d'oeuvres from 10 restaurants to hear CEO David Frazer's rebranding update. Sponsorships, three live auction bids and an appeal to fund new drugs pushed net proceeds to $630,000.

Celebrity host Giuliana Rancic, a mother and a cancer survivor herself, enjoyed spending time with the kids, each outfitted by Dillard's and paired with a career role model, including Sheriff David Gee, fashion designers Sigrid Olsen and Tracy Negoshian, oncologist Dr. Damon Reed, nurse Sarah Haines, NPCF co-founder Melissa Helms and firefighters, beauty queens and newscasters.

Community Tampa Bay: Transformations

Every speaker made a powerful impression at Transformations, an annual Community Tampa Bay benefit introducing the 2016 Silver Medallion Award recipients, four champions of diversity and inclusion. Molly and Brian Auld, president of the Tampa Bay Rays, live those values personally and professionally as he leads the first major sports team to formally support marriage equality, and she chairs Project Prosper. Machelle Maner, Wells Fargo vice president of community development, spoke of authenticity, stressing that "diversity doesn't mean squat without inclusion." Florida State student Ana Gomez credited Anytown youth leadership week for utterly transforming her beliefs.

Other students sharing "transformations" with the 200 guests April 21 at Maestro's at the Straz Center included Maya Barrett describing the eye-opening "Privilege Exercise" and Amirah Rivers' intense poem on tempering rage with self-awareness. Dennis Amadeus Lemmermann and Liz Prisley riveted the room with a Hunger Games analogy, now on YouTube. Proceeds of $70,000 will fund three Anytown sessions this summer.

Sunday in the Arts

Such a talented bunch, those members and friends of Las Damas de Arte who exhibit and sell their work to fund grants and scholarships for art students. The annual Sunday in the Arts party impressed with 45 women artists, including two fabric artisans: Carolyn Kossar's Artical Silk scarves and Leeann Kroetsch's Threaded Art Wear silk chiffon felted wraps. Carolyn Gaynor and Teri Willis co-chaired and Pane Rustica catered the creative affair April 24 at Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa.


  1. Jade McLain carries Thor out of a boat as she and Fred Stewart were rescued from their flooded neighborhood inundated by rains from Tropical Depression Imelda by Splendora Police officers on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Spendora, Texas. BRETT COOMER  |  AP
    By Thursday night, floodwaters had started receding in most of the Houston area, said the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner.
  2. Cassidy Dylan Daniels, 27, of 944 Oak Arbor Circle in St. Augustine, faces two counts of carjacking, one count of aggravated fleeing and eluding and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia in connection with back-to-back carjackings in Pinellas Park. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    The victims were a woman leaving work and a teen arriving at his home.
  3. Buster is a sweet senior available for adoption at Hernando County Animal Services. Hernando County Animal Services
  4. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks to reporters after the panel met behind closed doors with national intelligence inspector general Michael Atkinson about a whistleblower complaint, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The administration is keeping Congress from even learning what exactly the whistleblower is alleging.
  5. In this Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 photo, a billboard depicting Shiite spiritual leaders and volunteer fighters from the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces who were killed in Iraq fighting Islamic State militants, is displayed in Basra, Iraq. As the U.S. and Israel step up their efforts to contain Iran, countries in Tehran’s orbit are feeling the heat. Nowhere is that being felt more than in Iraq, where Shiite forces tied to Iran pose a growing challenge to the government’s authority. NABIL AL-JURANI  |  AP
    Pro-Iranian militias across Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq are being targeted, both with economic sanctions and precision airstrikes hitting their bases and infrastructure.
  6. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  7. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  9. Former nursing assistant Falo Kane, 32, of Clearwater, faces seven counts of sexual battery of a physically helpless person. Clearwater police are now looking for more potential victims at other health care facilities. [CLEARWATER POLICE DEPARTMENT]  |  Clearwater Police Department
    Falo Kane is accused of assaulting six patients at four facilities since 2016. Clearwater detectives want to know if there are other victims.
  10. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.