NEW NAME NEEDED: If ever an event needed a signature name, the Prostate Cancer Gala is it. Officially, it's the Celebration of Hope, but no one calls it that. Despite the name, the Sept. 25 dinner was a huge success for the Florida Prostate Cancer Network (more than 700 guests raised $260,000). Send any suggestions (CanCan Gala? P-Can Party?) and I'll pass them on to executive director Bob Samuels.)
Guests at the $150-ticket dinner at the Hyatt Regency Tampa signed a picture book of Ireland and bought a CD tribute to Monsignor Laurence Higgins, recipient of the Schwarzkopf Pioneer in Prostate Cancer Award. Former Tampa Bay Buc Ricky Reynolds, a prostate cancer survivor, and his wife Pam, were honored for their volunteerism.
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, also a survivor, introduced the video of cameos of Gov. Jeb Bush, Tom McEwen, Sylvia Campbell, Rhea Law and Dick Greco and many others, produced by Lynn Marvin of Visual Communications Inc. Dinner ended with a chocolate birthday cake topped with Monsignor Higgins picture and sparklers.
OFFKEY REMARKS: The Florida Orchestra preceded its season-opening concert with Exceeding Expectations, a $125-ticket dinner on the stage of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Sept. 24. Artistic administrator Jeff Bram happily announced that this was the first time in three years that the orchestra was not looking for a conductor.
Representatives from the three cities in which the orchestra regularly performs included Tampa City Council chairwoman Linda Saul-Sena and Clearwater City commissioners Frank Hibbard and Bill Jonson. St. Petersburg cultural affairs manager Ann Wykell presented the new conductors the keys to her city, all the while lamenting the drive to Tampa and noting the dinner will be held in St. Pete next year. So much for efforts to bridge the bay!
THANK YOU GEORGE: The Boys & Girls Club saluted 42-year board member George Levy in song and style at the home of Monica & David Epstein on Sept. 24. Paul Wilborn wrote and played a ditty to the ubiquitous Levy. One stanza went like this: "If you live in Tampa, there's no escaping him. His name's on every plaque and trophy you might win. Yeah, you can't get away from him. Hell, it's almost like the man's got a twin." The joke, of course, is that he does.
Tampa Bay Buc Derrick Brooks spoke about the Brooks' Bunch of kids he mentors. Guests got a look at auction items they can bid on at the club's Steak Dinner on Nov. 13 at Busch Gardens. One sure winner: party of six in the Outback Steakhouse test kitchen with chef and founding partner, Tim Gannon.
PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER: Charming, gracious and fascinating, said Marcelina members of Julie Nixon Eisenhower, guest speaker Sept. 24 at the women's club and spa. About 65 women got to meet former President Richard Nixon's daughter at Marcelina Speaks, a quarterly program free to members, $100 to non-members.DAZZLE IN DRIZZLE: Regulars at Jazzy Night at Jackson's Bistro know to get to Harbour Island early to enjoy the tasting benefit for LifePath Hospice. A slight drizzle Sundaydidn't deter 530 silent auction shoppers and wine sippers, including Lt. Col. Robert Ashworth, just back from Iraq. Lucky Mackey Williams won the Sea Ray 180 Sport raffle, which helped net $140,000 to serve 1,600 Hospice patients daily.DELICIOUS DESIGNS: Coconut papasan chairs. Chocolate bar sofas. Sugar cube walls. All part of the 17 entries in the Incredible Edible Design Competition sponsored by the International Interior Design Association on Sept. 25 at A La Carte Pavilion.
IIDA members used pasta, pretzels, candy and anything else you can digest to create room designs and furniture. Miniature diners and bomb shelters reflected the 1950s theme. Retro centerpieces with Pixy sticks, candy cigarettes and Bazooka gum took 100-plus guests back in time, while raffles helped to benefit Easter Seals.
First place went to Jackie Lynch, Sheila Elliott and Victoria Marino of IDS in St. Petersburg.
MDA MOVERS: Hosts extraordinaire Liz and Joe O'Connell opened Le Chateau des Chenes, their 25,000-square foot Avila estate, for a cocktail reception Sept. 25 to thank patrons and sponsors of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Hearts of Fire Gala. Party chairwoman Angeles Ferlita gave tours of the home that is for sale for $8-million. Gala chairmen Barbara and Jim Majors shared big news: gold medal Olympians Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner will attend the MDA benefit on Oct. 18.
TOP OF THE CLASS: Pan American University Women enjoyed fashions from Burdines Citrus Park at Art of Giving chaired by RoseAnne Bower at the Marriott Westshore on Saturday. Joann Guagliardo narrated as school officials Earl Lennard, Jack Lamb, Nuri Ayres and Sylvia Albritton and others modeled for the 64-year-old club of Latin women college graduates. Journalism pro Nancy White reported about 300 guests attended to net almost $6,000 for USF Latino scholarships and other charities.