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.
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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.