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On the town

By MARY JANE PARK, Times Staff Writer
Published October 21, 2007



Actor Ben Vereen is no stranger to the Tampa Bay area, having performed in the area and having taught classes in Tampa's Broadway Theatre Project, but his St. Petersburg gig was a last-minute favor for a friend.

Lou Gossett Jr. had committed to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast annual Alumni Awards gala at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park but endured a stress fracture on one of his feet, and doctors suggested no airline travel.

Vereen caught a flight in from California and took a red-eye back; he became an ordained minister in 2006 and had a commitment at his church the next day.

More than 540 patrons packed the ballroom, where Boys & Girls alumni Frank Crum, Emery Ivery, Jesse Litsch and Jai Hinson were recognized for their community accomplishments.

- Crum founded FrankCrum, a professional employer organization.

- Ivery is vice president for community and partnership development of United Way of Tampa Bay.

- Litsch made his Major League Baseball debut as a pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays in May.

- Hinson is founder, president and chief executive of Life Force Cultural Arts Academy.

Lighthouse Credit Foundation was the major sponsor of the event.


The Night the Stars Came Out, a gala benefiting the Gulfcoast Oncology Foundation, raised $50,000 that will help support cancer patients in the Tampa Bay area who have needs aside from medical concerns such as rent, mortgages, electric bills, car payments, even food.

The fledgling charity was launched in January through the medical staff of Gulfcoast Oncology Associates and has no paid staff; Jane Morse-Swett is its director.

It was a family event for Mary K. Wilson and her sons Paul and Mark; Mary K. and Paul Wilson performed along with Laura Peterson and Linda Brewer;Mark Wilson was master of ceremonies and auctioneer with Dr. Jeffrey Paonessa.


The Queen's Court, which raises money for nonprofits through its annual Queen of Hearts Ball, is accepting applications from organizations that serve the St. Petersburg area to receive grants from the 2009 event.

To be eligible, charities must be listed under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.

Applications may be received by calling 576-7999. The deadline for submission is Feb. 1.

[Last modified October 20, 2007, 23:08:47]

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