ALL FIRED UP: Hearts of Fire Gala sparked significant spending Saturday night, with 380 guests raising nearly $200,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Co-chairs Barbara and Jim Major, retired general manager of WFTS-Ch. 28, got involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association 30 years ago during a Jerry Lewis telethon.
This year, Hurricane Frances blew through Florida just as the annual telethon aired. That cost MDA about $2-million in donations and made the gala at the A La Carte Pavilion even more urgent.
Emcee Denis Phillips, ABC's local meteorologist, turned the mic over to Tampa Bay Buccaneer-turned-lawyer Brad Culpepper for the live auction.
"Who will spend $600 to send a child to Muscular Dystrophy summer camp?" Culpepper asked. Bidders shouted their support. In all, donors funded 86 kids for a week each. Allied Specialty and T.H.E. insurance companies sponsored 42. They also bid $9,000 for 40 guests to have dinner with Buccaneer Brad Johnson, catered by Outback Steakhouse, and $2,000 to eat dinner at the Palm restaurant with Buccaneer Joe Jurevicius.
GO WILD! IT'S FOR CHARITY: Shoppers charged into the Key to the Cure kickoff party Oct. 14 at Saks Fifth Avenue. Rhonda Hatcher and Melissa Taylor splurged on $600 Manolo Blahnik shoes, knowing 2 percent of Saks sales Oct. 14-17 benefit reproductive cancer research at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.
"We're Target people, but this is for charity," Hatcher said. "The shoes are a bonus."
The color pink prevailed on many of the 600 fashionable guests, the color associated with the fight against breast cancer. The Absolut Raspberri they drank was rosy, too, accompanied by hors d'oeuvres from the Signature Room Grille.
Some of the designers featured at Saks planned to match the store's donation, so co-chairwomen Barbara Ryals an d Katherine Frazier expect Moffitt to get a check for at least $90,000.
A silent auction raised more than $20,000, including $4,000 for handbags painted by local artists. Cheryl Parker paid $400 for a walk-on role in SelleVision, a movie written and directed by Mark Bozek, former chief executive officer of HSN, about life at a fictional television shopping network.
EACH DAY IS A GIFT, say the folks at LifePath Hospice who care for 2,100 patients every day. That motto motivated Greg Stinson and Jack Campbell, owners of Jackson's Bistro on Harbour Island, to sponsor Jazzy Night at Jackson's on Sunday. Twenty wineries offered tastings to 700 guests amid food and auction tables. Good vibes came from chairwoman Tanya Hillary and Stacey Knights' saxophone.
Prior to the benefit, about 100 patrons were invited to party with Alan Bridges of Allpoints Equipment, in his 4,000-square foot bachelor penthouse on the 19th floor of the GrandView. They ogled spectacular views from the balcony, a home theater, 13 televisions and cool toys, such as the 23-foot shuffle board table. Bridges helped run the live auction for Hospice, getting a bid of $3,400 for a three-hour cruise on his 52-foot yacht.
SILVER ANNIVERSARY: The official chorus of the Florida Orchestra, Master Chorale of Tampa Bay celebrated its 25th year at a black-tie dinner Saturday, hosting 125 guests at Maestro's at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Creative auction offerings featured lunch and a tuba lesson with executive director Bill Faucett, which sold for $175. Board membe r Margie Passon bid $125 to have tenor Dan Petrie and baritone Dean Luethi sing Broadway hits at her next party. It's wonderful when organizations take advantage of their own talent to make their auctions unique.
BE A VOICE: Some 4,000 children a year enter the legal system after being abandoned or removed from abusive homes in Hillsborough County, but only about 35 percent get Guardian ad Litem advocates to represent them. Voices for Children was created to raise money and recruit volunteers. An Oct. 14 award ceremony at Mise en Place honore d Paddy Moses as a Champion for Children for her work at the Boys & Girls Club.
Ann Murphey received the first Guardian Angel award. Delighted at the next generation stepping up, the child activist vowed, "I'm not going anywhere."
TRENDY TRIO: Three cultural support groups produced the first Carnival of the Arts, a night of music, mime, vintage movies, Midway games and more on Oct. 15 outside the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.
Keith Brown, a member of Avant Garde at the Tampa Museum of Art and the Balcony Club at Tampa Theatre, and Gar Urette, a member of the TBPAC's Producers, thought up AMP, an acronym for Art, Movies and Performance to oversee the event. They shared ideas and mailing lists to help the three downtown venues.
For just $20, ($35 for nonmembers) nearly 400 people of varying ages came to sing karaoke, spin paint into art, eat shrimp from Bonefish Grill and Blue Bell ice cream, sip Dewar's Scotch Whiskey and dance to 1 a.m. to Johnny G. Lyons Band.
Hint hint: Carnival of the Arts could pick up where First Night Tampa left off, an arty, cheap, downtown street party on Dec. 31. Bring on poetry readings, tango lessons and basketweaving.