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Kevin Bacon makes surprise visit to Tampa Bay fundraisers

TAMPA — As the final free training session began Tuesday at the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay, the teacher made an announcement.

"We have a special guest," Sara Leonard told a class of two dozen.

In walked a slim man dressed in a black leather jacket and dark jeans.

The room erupted in screams.

"I'm your teacher for the day," said actor Kevin Bacon, who currently stars in the television show The Following and is perhaps best known for appearing in movies including Animal House, A Few Good Men and Footloose.

In Tampa for a lecture Tuesday night at the University of South Florida, Bacon made a surprise visit to the center, where non-profit professionals were gearing up for Give Day Tampa Bay.

"Just kidding, obviously," Bacon said. "I'm Kevin, by the way. Nice to meet you."

Bacon scheduled the appearance, unbeknownst to those in the class, with the help of his team at, which connects local causes with celebrities.

"There's a lot of giant organizations that have huge benefits and rock stars playing music and they cost $20,000 or $30,000 per table and they raise a tremendous amount of money," Bacon said. "But I also think it is important to connect small groups and people like yourselves with people in my world … if nothing else just to say, 'Thank you, keep up the good work.' "

In addition, Bacon and agreed to contribute to the Give Day Tampa Bay event on May 6, which is a 24-hour fundraising competition for nonprofits across Tampa Bay. Sponsored by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation, participants will have an opportunity to win a personalized message from Bacon or an extra $1,000 toward their cause.