Girl Scouts of Suncoast Council

Published April 6, 2007

In four years, Fashion Funds the Cure quadrupled attendance and sponsors at the annual Saks Fifth Avenue runway show starring young girls who have battled cancer.

The 500-plus guests shopped, ate, cheered and cried for the 27 models, some in treatment, some celebrating remission, all beautiful, at the March 27 benefit for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

"I want to have all 27 back next year," said event chair Chad Harrod, a pediatric cancer survivor himself. "Everyone back and no new girls."

Another goal: double the proceeds and move to a bigger venue.

All $165,0000 raised goes to the Foundation's Sunshine Project to make new drug discoveries available faster.

Saks treated the models to a beauty salon day and donated 10 percent of in-store sales that night.

Auctioneer Jen Holloway of Bay News 9 helped, getting $5,000 for a St. John knit jacket from Steve Yerrid.

DJ Kristi Thomas, Magic 94.9 FM, announced the celebrity escorts, including Tampa Bay Bucs Michael Clayton, Chris Simms and Shelton Quarles and the Lightning's Dave Andreychuk. Photographer Pepito Valdes presented each girl a portrait taken with her mother. And Dan and Nicole Doyle paid the Saks bill, so the girls could keep the outfits they modeled.

Part health expo, part awards dinner, the Patel Foundation for Global Understanding hosted 400 guests dressed in "healthy chic" to salute Global Citizen Paul Farmer and eight Healthy Heroes at the Tampa Convention Center on March 30.

Apples, bananas and granola bars made fruitful centerpieces, and Sweetbay passed out fresh pineapples.

Presenters Sid Morgan of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and Jeff Knott of Rooms to Go jogged up to announce the winners out of 60 nominations. Among them: Ronna Metcalf of the Life Enrichment Center for Aging Wellness and Proyecto Prevencion for Disease Prevention.

Dr. Farmer, Harvard medical school professor and co-founder of Partners in Health, shares Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel's goal to decrease disparities in health care. As Farmer spoke of treating the poor in Haiti and Rwanda, the Patel Foundation launched its Healthy Together coalition to focus on Tampa Bay wellness resources.

CORRECTION: I must have had stars in my eyes last week when writing about the Celebrity Dancing in Tampa Bay benefit for the Spring of Tampa Bay. The station where co-host Russell Rhodes works, WTVT-Ch. 13, was misidentified; and the late dancer/actor Gene Kelly's name was misspelled.

Marlo Thomas made the crowd laugh and cry discussing the power of positive and negative words when the Girl Scouts of Suncoast Council honored four Women of Distinction on March 27.

"Some words stay with us forever," the actor, author, activist and wife of Phil Donahue told nearly 800 luncheon guests. She shared examples from her book The Right Words at the Right Time.

Many recognized Thomas' raspy-voice from the 1965-71 TV series That Girl when she played the first independent working woman. Thomas is 69, but you'd never guess it. She's also a former Girl Scout, a founder of Ms. Foundation for Women, and outreach director at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital opened by her father, actor Danny Thomas.

"It's no coincidence so many successful women were Scouts," she said over key lime pie dotted with a Thin Mint.

The 2007 Women of Distinction are two energetic community volunteers, Beverly Austin and Maria Cantonis, and two savvy businesswomen, Sweetbay Supermarket CEO Shelley Broader, whose daughter Madison is a Girl Scout; and Kane's Furniture co-founder and president Thelma Rothman.

Jet lag didn't diminish Hillsborough Community College president Gwendolyn Stephenson's enthusiasm when she returned from India in time to host HCC Foundation's fifth annual Presidential Showcase at the Ybor City campus March 29.

She aims to share the school's success with Indian community colleges, she said, pointing to various campus facilities and thanking the singing and dancing students, jazz band, faculty and administrators.

Mayor Pam Iorio added her praise, saying HCC is at the top of her "Most Proud Of" list. About 20 of the 200 Hospitality Management students showed off their education by making special desserts for the 250 guests at the event, called A Night in Ybor.

When auction results and state matching funds are added, the foundation should net $125,000.




April 13: Friends of Joshua House Child Abuse Awareness lunch; 11:30 a.m.; Marriott Waterside; $50; 263-3469.

April 14: Imagination gala benefits Kid City and the new Children's Museum of Tampa; 6:30 p.m.; TBPAC; $200; 935-8441, ext. 228.

April 19: Judeo-Christian Health Clinic Testimonial Dinner; 6 p.m.; Higgins Hall; $95; 870-3231.

April 19: Tampa Palms Women's Club fifth annual Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon, benefits OASIS; 10:30 a.m.; Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club; $22; (813) 971-8063.