Amy Scherzer's Diary

Published May 25, 2007

The Tampa Bay American Red Cross chapter saw CEO Scott Salemme dance away, all the way back to the Central South Carolina chapter he left last year. The seventh annual MASH-theme benefit, Dance the Night Away, was the last Tampa Bay event for Salemme.

Most of the 250 guests wore military fatigues or hospital scrubs, tie-dyed T-shirts or disco miniskirts to the 70s-theme party at the Pepin Hospitality Center, where silent auction offerings covered pool tables and beer was served in wine glasses. They raved about the new Pepin palace, especially the commodious women's bathrooms. Co-chairs Gina Sierra-Townsend and Sandra Brooks expect the fun evening to net more than $75, 000 for Red Cross programs.

After a looooong season of black-tie affairs, Barnyard Boogie guests kicked back in blue jeans, boots and cowboy hats, biddin' and bettin, ' at the Cattle Barons' Ball on Saturday at the Port of Tampa Cruise Terminal 3.

Founding chairwoman Gloria Giunta grabbed the bull -errr, ball-by the horns to corral more than $550, 000 at the 10th annual hoedown for the American Cancer Society. That brought a "Yeehaw" from honorary "pardners" Rhea Law and Wayne Williams.

Activities for the 650 guests covered the range, from a huge silent auction to Texas hold'em and Midway games. Nearly 20 sponsors climbed on costumed toy horses and raced around a barrel.

Rita Carlino's Catering rustled up shrimp and grits and mesquite tenderloin; cobbler and trifle for dessert. The Cactus Creek band hustled up country tunes.

Auctioneers Kelly Ring and Charley Belcher of WTVT Ch. 13 got $16, 000 for two weeks at Carl Lindell's Santa Fe home, Las Campanas.

"That's Spanish for expensive, " quipped Belcher, as Giunta bought one week and four couples bought the other week.

Tom Pepin handed his bid paddle to daughter, Tina, 9, who inherited his charitable gene. In no time, she was up to $5, 000 for two pieces of jewelry.

Counting cowpokes who pledged $1, 000 to send children with cancer to ROCK camp and to support Hope Lodge is always a highlight. Anthony and Julie Everett offered a $25, 000 match if they got 25 donors. The final tally was nearly double that.

Busch Gardens sent Senegalese drummers, colorful stilt performers, the wild and woolly cast of Katonga and a 24-member African choir to the Lion King gala Saturday, the eighth Storybook Ball hosted by Ronald McDonald House Charities to help fund three area "homes" open to families of hospitalized children for $10 a night.

A Busch menagerie also circulated among the 530 guests, including a ball python, grey turaco and crown crane.

Yet again Vickii Block of Spellbound Inc. waved her magic wand, turning A La Carte Pavilion into a lush African savannah, topping orange and zebra stripe-linens with tiger lilies and handmade kaleidoscopes.

Each year RMHC honors a local celebrity with a $50, 000 national community grant, to donate to the charity of his choice. The 2007 awardee, baseball All-Star Tino Martinez, chose his buddy Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation.

Emcee Don Germais, WFTS-Ch. 28, auctioned an Orient Express vacation and the first-class airfare to get to it. Ball sponsors Rob and Diane Klingel bid $25, 000 for the trip, just one reason daughter-in-law and gala chairwoman Theresa Klingel expects to net $400, 000.

Another was the $16, 000 check Southwest Airlines presented to director Janice Davis from their fishing tournament.



June 5: Pink Martini benefits Race for the Cure, Florida Suncoast Affiliate of Susan G. Komen; 5 p.m.; Tampa Club, 101 E Kennedy Ave., 42nd floor; $30, advance; $35 at the door; must be 21; www.komen suncoast.org.

June 8: Pride & Passion identity celebration benefits Tampa Museum of Art; 8 p.m.; 600 N Ashley Drive; $45; $65 couple; $20 museum members; 274-8716.

June 9: 15th annual Celebrity Elegance auction benefits Hillsborough Fortune Education Foundation; 6 p.m.; Hyatt Regency Tampa; $125; 924-6713 or 936-9090.

June 16: 11th annual Harvest of Hope Awards by Tampa Bay Academy of Hope; 5 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $75; 277-0464.