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Amy Scherzer's Diary

By AMY SCHERZER Social Scene
Published May 4, 2007

[Times photo: Amy Scherzer]
Jake the camel noses over to meet Mark and Heidi Oliva, from left, and Karamu chairwoman Erika and Steve Anderson at the annual Lowry Park Zoo benefit Saturday.

Wheels of Success

Old hub caps, donated by Sam the Hubcap Man, were shined up and presented to companies that repair and replace cars for the working poor, said Wheels of Success CEO and founder Susan Jacobs at the first Hub Cap Awards luncheon April 27.

Meeting Mary and Russell Wilkie of Gulfport was the highlight for 250 guests at the luncheon, dubbed R.A.C.E. (Recognition & Appreciation for our Champions Event), at the Quorum Hotel.

Emcee Jack Harris of WFLA-AM 970 read Russell's e-mail explaining he was a bilateral amputee who broke his neck learning to walk on prosthetics. Then Mary lost her job and they lost their home and car.

Wheels of Success gave the couple a 1995 Ford F-150 truck.

"First thing I'm going to do is take my husband on a picnic, " said Mary, who spent hours on the bus getting to work and school.

R.A.C.E. raised more than $20, 000, plus the $400 collected when guests tossed their spare change into the hub cap centerpieces, enough to buy a new battery, repair a radiator or assist with a car payment.

Karamu at Lowry Park Zoo

Auctioning two cuddly white tiger cubs was zoo director Lex Salisbury's way of making sure Karamu guests knew why they were dining and dancing at Lowry Park Zoo on Saturday.

"Adopt the tigers and they're your kids for a year, " added emcee Jack Harris, getting Pat Sullivan to a final $6, 000 bid.

That boosted the 19th annual Karamu, which means "party" in Swahili, to net $180, 000 for zoo education programs.

Bringing the black-tie crowd to the zoo gets them close to the animals, like the New Guinea singing dog whose howl resembles a whale song.

They also admired Jake the camel sporting Indian wraps made by committee member Joie Wilson for the Treasures of India theme.

Chairwoman Erika Anderson, wearing Chanel, greeted 400 guests for cocktails in the courtyard before Indian drummers led them along a path of Oriental rugs into the open-air Saunders Pavilion.

Committee members and florist Ian Prosser hung peacocks above the tables and dabbed peacock feathers into rose and lily centerpieces.

Dinner was steak and prawns, enlivened with Indian spices by A La Carte Catering. Full Circle rocked till midnight.

Earlier in the week, jeweler Mark and Heidi Oliva hosted a Bwana Party for $500-and-up patrons. Guests had fun trying on the 50 gems he brought home that night.


Judeo-Christian Health Clinic Dinner

Someone special was greatly missed at the Judeo-Christian Health Clinic's testimonial dinner April 19: the late Dr. Ernie Reiner, volunteer medical director for 35 years, who hosted the fundraiser for more than three decades.

The two men ate lunch together every week, said the Rev. John DeBevoise, who took on the emcee role with a corny joke Reiner told him before he died in September of a brain tumor at age 86.

Clinic president Sylvia Campbell surprised volunteer nurse Phyllis Rowan with the Good Samaritan Award. She named WFLA-Ch. 8 news anchor Gayle Sierens Martin the 2007 Humanitarian for the many hours she gives to Tampa Bay area nonprofits.

With 500 guests supporting the annual dinner, chairman Monsignor Laurence Higgins expects to net $110, 000.

Kangaroo terrine. Elk tenderloin. Kobe oxtail. Ostrich pastrami. Grilled boar. Rabbit ravioli. Bern's 10th annual WineFest menu would not have gone over well at Karamu.


Bern's WineFest Grand tasting

Better with age was the slogan on the T-shirts, but how can owner David Laxer and Chef Jeannie Pierola top Sunday's grand tasting?

From the lariat wineglass holder to the crusty baguettes at the exit, they didn't skimp on feeding the 900 guests who paid $95 to sample global appetizers and 200-plus wines, all arranged geographically in three tents attached to SideBern's.

Chorizo cotton candy. Caviar cones. Gazpacho on herbed flatbread spoons. Bouillabaisse en papillote. Cheeses and desserts too wild to describe here. But the indulgent crowd did more than sip and swoon. They also helped raise $10, 000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And they checked out renderings of the future 75-room Epicurean condominium hotel and Bern Laxer School of Food and Wine.



Today: Silverspoons & Sandcastles auction benefits Mayor's Beautification Program; 7-11 p.m.; Tampa Port Authority Cruise Terminal No. 3; $85; 221-8733.

Saturday: Magnolia Ball for H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute; 5:30 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $1, 000; 745-1403.

Saturday: "Tuxes & Tails" Fiesta fashion show dinner benefits Humane Society; Pepin Hospitality Center, 4121 N 50th St.; 6 p.m.; $125; 876-4150.

Sunday: Sunday in the Arts benefits Las Damas de Arte student scholarships; 5 p.m. preview party; 6 p.m. general admission; $35 in advance; $45 at the door; $75 patrons; 1110 N Florida Ave.; 979-1559.

May 11: Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary luncheon; 11 a.m.; Rusty Pelican, 2425 N Rocky Point Drive; fashions from SteinMart; $50 and up; 226-0055, ext. 402.


[Last modified May 3, 2007, 06:30:07]

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