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A roundup for cancer

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AMY SCHERZER'S DIARY
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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 29, 2002


YEEHAW FOR MEGA-YACHTS: No chuck wagon stew for rustlers arriving at Cracker Country for the VIP party preceding the Cattle Barons' Ball at the Florida State Fairgrounds Saturday. In keeping with the theme, "Hollywood Cowboys," they ate sushi, shrimp and filet mignon hors d'oeuvres from Roy's, Carraba's and Flemings.

As it got dark, VIPs joined 600 others in the Special Events Center for a night of country-western fundraising for the benefit of the American Cancer Society. Anybody who went to St. Joseph Hospital's "Hollywood & Vine" Steppin' Out gala recognized the giant Oscar props and HOLLYWOOD signage.

Cowboy hats, boots, vests, jeans and turquoise jewelry were a comfortable fit for the cavernous hall, abuzz with casino games, horse shoes, putt-putt golf, racing crabs and pigs. (You could bet on craps or crabs, noted a croupier.) Outback Steakhouse provided the grub. The "Hollywood Dresses" collection, on loan from Maureen Rorech Dunkel, would have better suited the Oscars party the following night.

Auctioneer John Fountain and emcee Jack Harris got $40,000 from Brandy and John Puls for a jet set island vacation package, their second from a Cattle Barons' Ball. A private jet will pick up the Puls and two other couples and fly them to an island to board Stunning Gallant Lady, a 160-foot mega-yacht with a crew of 10. The three-day, two-night package was donated by JM Family Enterprises.

Hank Shaw & the Cactus Creek Band started the country music, then the Bellamy Brothers took over. Remember that old favorite: If I Said you had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold it Against Me).

Moffitt Cancer Center chief cowboy, Jack Ruckdeschel, American Cancer Society division president, sported a new look. He's gone beardless for the first time in 31 years. Why the close shave? "For love," he said, with a wink to fiancee Angie Stone, a nurse at Moffitt. They get hitched June 15.

* * *

FUTURE HILFIGERS: Last week, "Where It's @" was at the International Academy of Design & Technology standing room only fashion show.

Interior design, animation and Web development student work filled the lobby of the Tampa Convention Center. One first prize winner, fourth-year student Susan Johnson, had already designed interiors for Ovo Cafe, the Castle and the now-closed Cafe Cohiba. Her date? Daughter Frankie Wujcik, 8.

The runway action showed what fashion design students learn at the Memorial Highway campus, "where the left and right brains meet."

Fashions went from pretty to pretty strange; from wearable to unbearable. A black halter gown by Angelique trailed fresh ivy. Dawn West made a dress of laminated magazine covers and sewed a skirt of rubber flipflop beach shoes. Seashells covered an outfit by Amy Wood; Trizzoy spray-painted a denim suit.

Everything was for sale after the show, which ended with a sheriff's deputy and a firefighter escorting models to a patriotic standing ovation. Academy president Mark Page announced all proceeds will go to the Tampa AIDS Network.

Linda Zipkin of Neiman Marcus, who has coordinated several previous student shows, was part of the very impressed audience. Georgette Diaz, owner of Georgette's of Old Hyde Park, came to check out the creative work of student Valerie Muse, one of her sales staff.

RIDE, SALLY RIDE: What a thrill for the Girl Scouts and other guests to hear Sally Ride, the first American female in space, at the "Women of Distinction" luncheon on March 19.

Since 1992, the Girl Scouts of Suncoast Council has honored women who made an impact on careers and community. This year's quartet, Adrienne Garcia, Marion Rich, Maureen Rorech Dunkel and Amy Shimberg, received binoculars from Home Shopping Network and gold pins designed by artist Karen Arch of Blue Moon Trading Co. on S MacDill Avenue.

Garcia is development director for the Tampa Bay History Center. Rich runs the Film Foundation of Tampa Bay. Rorech Dunkel heads the People's Princess Charitable Foundation and Marcelina, a club for women. Shimberg is a 27-year volunteer for Meals on Wheels and a 22-year citizen adviser to the county school board.

Astronaut Ride soared over them all. She said her career was launched by a NASA ad in the Stanford University Daily. More than 10,000 applied; 35 were accepted, of whom six were women. All 35 have flown in space at least once. Ride flew twice. Slides of Earth taken from the shuttle fascinated the 450 guests and inspired a lot of the scouts. "My dream came true," Ride told them.

Anybody expecting the Girl Scouts to serve wieners and s'mores instead found pad Thai and key lime pie topped with a Thin Mint. A La Carte Pavilion chefs used a dozen boxes of the most popular Girl Scout cookie.

* * *

OSCARS ON THE BIG SCREEN: Screaming fans lined the red carpet leading from limo to Tanpa Theatre at Sunday's "Oscar Night America" benefit for Ronald McDonald House and Tampa Theatre.

More than 300 Oscar watchers, many dressed up in Hollywood glam, came to see who would be the big winners. Pat Fenda and JoEllen Schilke played the Joan Rivers role with nonstop fashion commentary of each arrival.

Student actors from Blake, Bloomingdale and Leto High schools, yelled for autographs. Rita Carlino catered the dinner buffet.

Tampa Theatre awarded its own Oscars, such as "Best Hat" and "Most Dashing." Emma Napper, 5, won "Best Diva in Training."

* * *

READY-TO-WEAR TO WORK: Dress for Success Executive Director Pat Ellington called the recent suit drive at International Plaza "an unbelievable success, the best we've ever had." The drive netted more than 700 suits.

For the third year, Dress for Success collected business attire to give to needy women entering the work force. Ellington works with 60 organizations, including Alpha House, Centre for Women, DACCO, Tampa Crossroads, Headstart, Tampa Urban League and more.

-- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com.

City Times: The rest of the stories

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  • A roundup for cancer
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