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Amy Scherzer's diary

Magnolia Ball fundraiser nets $2.6-million for Moffitt

Published May 11, 2007


The 14th annual Magnolia Ball blew away local philanthropy records by raising an unprecedented $2.6-million for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.

Even the most veteran fundraisers were awed by Saturday night's tally from 830 black-tie supporters at A La Carte Pavilion.

Almost every expense was underwritten or donated, netting $1-million more than last year's gala.

Hooters founder and Moffitt Foundation vice chairman Ed Droste, noting it was his first wedding anniversary, stood at a podium in the center of the ballroom surrounded by 80 tables topped in champagne pink sateen and towering vases of magnolias. (The Moffitt facility is located on Magnolia Drive.)

The first standing ovation followed the benediction by Monsignor Laurence Higgins, who is retiring next month after 49 years leading his flock at St. Lawrence.

The second was for Moffitt patient Richard Spayde who fought acute leukemia with 100 transfusions and two stem cell transplants.

Spayde's emotional testimony credited Moffitt staff for "saving lives, families and futures."

Moffitt deputy director Dr. Jack Pledger introduced Nick Valvano, chief executive officer of the Jimmy V Foundation, named for his brother, the basketball coach and ESPN commentator who died of cancer at age 47.

The crowd hushed to hear Jimmy Valvano's 1993 farewell speech when he beseeched, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

Those words became the V Foundation motto, said Nick, as he announced a $400, 000 matching gift.

During dinner of filet of beef and pan-seared lobster, 15 auction items projected on six huge screens brought in $156, 000, thanks to Masonite International Corp.

The company tacked $5, 000 on each item that sold for its listed value, adding up to a $50, 000 donation.

Guests got program books by FedEx early enough to study the auction offerings.

Four hours after they arrived, guests were rewarded with rock 'n' roll by Huey Lewis and the News.

One of the band's hits sang out like a Moffitt mission: I Want a New Drug.



Friday: Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary fashion show luncheon; 11 a.m.; Rusty Pelican, 2425 N Rocky Point Drive; $50; 226-0055, ext. 402.

Saturday : World's Largest Hurricane Party, supports hurricane relief, 1-8 p.m. at Hooper's Hollow, 4050 Dana Shores Drive, $25; (813) 839-1302, ext. 629.

Saturday : Wine and cheese fundraiser to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, silent auction and raffle, 7-9 p.m. 9906 W Linebaugh Ave. Free admission. (813) 792-8960.

Saturday: Dance the Night Away benefits American Red Cross of Tampa Bay; '70s attire; 6:30 p.m.; Pepin Hospitality Center, 4121 N 50th St.; $125; 348-4820, ext. 869.

May 19: The Lion King, eighth annual Storybook Ball benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities; 6 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $300; 258-6430.


[Last modified May 10, 2007, 07:34:12]

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