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Amy Scherzer's diary

Fashionollia, the Art of Giving

Published March 23, 2007


Pierce Brosnan stunt double David Lyons had planned to rappel off Mark and Christel Yaffe's roof, smack into Mingle With the Stars, a cocktail party benefit for Sydney's School for Autism. But big as the Avila mansion is (about 31,000 square feet), it wasn't high enough for a James Bond entry. Instead, Lyons helped auction a collage of autographed photos of every Agent 007. It sold for $2,800 to Denise and Lance Tchor.

The March 10 party was the second benefit the Yaffes hosted for a good friend, Kathy Swenson, who named the school at 4518 S Manhattan Ave. for daughter Sydney, 9. It currently serves eight autistic children and 16 other children, ages 3 to 10. Proceeds from the auction, which included six VIP grandstand seats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, will help add a grade level next year.

Stars spotted mingling with the 250 guests: Fred McGriff, Tony Mayberry, Daren Puppa, Dale Eggeling, Hopalong Cassidy, Tom Redmond and Tommy Phelps. Many returned to Avila for a golf tournament to benefit the school the next day.

The first female krewe - Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O'Malley - marked 15 years of partying with pirates and other assorted Gasparilla revelers with the installation of their O'Malley XV, Joni Cusimano. Dignitaries from 25 krewes, including Argus from New Orleans, watched as retiring O'Malley Karen Wells passed the scepter March 3 at the India Cultural Center.

Longtime member Janice Long donned white gloves to operate the elevator. Ball chairwoman and O'Malley-elect Pat Heid got her hubby, Greg, to emcee but then he nearly forgot to present her. Doug Vance, president of the Gauchos, known for his creative entrance, danced in, of course.

Gifts were pretty cool, as was the martini ice sculpture fountain. Guests received a bottle of O'Malley wine made and bottled by krewe members at Wine Aspirations on Fowler Avenue. Founders and former O'Malleys received cloisonne necklaces depicting the new O'Malley's crest: Cusimano on a chariot drawn by two seahorses, designed by her sister.

A giant wooden picture frame on the runway helped guests visualize the Art of Giving at Fashionollia, the 59th annual Tampa Woman's Club luncheon. Co-chairwomen Pat Kasum and Joann Guagliardo saw the theme come to life as each model emerged through the frame.

Doug Williams, son of member Kathleen Hudson, built the frame; her husband, Walter, donated the lighting for the March 10 benefit at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza. Schakolad Chocolate Factory sweetened the concept with chocolate picture frames at each seat.

Spring fashions came from Brooks Brothers, Cache Luxe, Chico's and Strasbourg Children's Wear, worn by models including Tampa Bay Buc Michael Clayton and his wife, Tina; dentists William Robinson and John Redd II, and svelte City Times reporter Rick "Twinkle Toes" Gershman.

The 300-plus guests shopped a foyerful of vendors selling gifts from toffee to Town Toile before emcee Brian Fasulo charmed them into lunch. The promise of hearing vocalist Belinda Womack was an added lure.

This year, Fashionollia funds go to American Cancer Society's Making Dreams Come True scholarships to help students who have survived cancer. One of those recipients, Tampa police Officer John Manning, came to say, "Thanks." When president Laura Lang asked for extra donations, 37 guests signed a mirror to "reflect" their $100 checks. Patron committee co-chairwomen Marilyn Alessi and Anna Perdue added to the net with more than 50 women at $125 each.

Centre for Women board member Lauren Schellman welcomed supporters to the home of her parents, Melanie and Richard Gonzmart, for a sunset "we appreciate you" get-together March 8. This group always finds the loveliest homes for its 305 Circle events. Columbia restaurant made the seafood paella, shrimp cocktail and sushi for 100 donors and prospects.

LaSalle Bank, represented by Dan Borasch and Centre board member Kim Bruce, sponsored the party and offered to match the first $5,000 raised. The crowd heard a grandmother talk about how the Centre for Girls, an after-school program run by the Centre for Women, influenced her granddaughter. They listened to a single mom raising a daughter with a heart condition. After hearing their stories, guests were moved to meet the match.



Friday: GreenFest lunch, helps Friends of Plant Park; 10 a.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $60; 254-0562.

Saturday: Black and White Ball, benefits St. Joseph's Hospitals Foundation; 6:30 p.m.; Hyatt Regency; $250; 872-0979.

Saturday: Best of Tampa Bay benefits Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center; food and wine from 50 restaurants; 7 p.m.; $75 in advance, $85 day of event; 229-7827.

Saturday: Baseball for Kids dinner benefits All Children's Hospital; 6:30 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $225; (727) 767-8422.

March 27: Girl Scouts Women of Distinction lunch; noon; A La Carte Event Pavilion; $60; 262-1759.

March 27: "Fashion Funds the Cure," for Pediatric Cancer Foundation; $75; 6 p.m.; Saks Fifth Avenue; 269-0955.


[Last modified March 22, 2007, 07:54:05]

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