TAMPA — Can we all agree on one thing? It's time to end 2016 and stop rehashing politicians, primaries and polls. Cocktail chatter could get pretty tricky this year, even while socializing for a mutual cause. Thank goodness for all those who used their energy, attention and ideas bringing people together to make life better for everybody. Memories from some of those worthy events jump out as we say "Cheers!" to a peaceful, charitable and happy new year.
Must have been the Wheaties or really strong coffee that turned donuts to dollars for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay. When 800 early risers heard the testimonials and youth success stories at the annual Great Futures Breakfast, they collected $1.3 million to enable more kids to participate in future club programs.
Faster than you can say Manolos, Bay Area Advisors sold 1,000 tickets to Martinis for Moffitt, a mostly millennial crowd thirsty for summer diversion. Hot and steamy didn't just refer to the night air Aug. 6 as they metaphorically swiped left and right circulating 15 bars and a beer tent, all to ultimately further research at Moffitt Cancer Center, recipient of $1 million since the professional men's club began the party 11 years ago.
Better keep a defibrillator handy when you invite real estate developer Bob Schmidt to a fundraiser. His bid at the Tampa Bay Heart Ball is the heart-stopping envy of every charity auction: $55,000 for a week in a 15th-century villa in Florence, Italy… and no, airfare and food is not included. A puppy fetched $22,000 at another gala auction, but Schmidt's solo donation to the American Heart Association raised the bar of generosity.
Beach Boys tunes, Gidget flicks and lobster rolls set a retro theme for VIPs welcomed by Penny and Jeff Vinik, to the Beach Tampa, the first of 100,000 visitors to "dunk" into an "ocean" of 1.2 million white plastic balls designed as a three-week, interactive exhibition at Amalie Arena. The opening night boardwalk bash tickled guests with tropical cocktails, tiki hut hors d'oeuvres stations and a beach bucket rainbow. "Everything but sand and sunburn," said Penny.
Best Tampa transplants: The Vinik family. See the Beach Tampa (above) and million$ of other reasons.
Topics ran the gamut, but five keynote speakers grabbed their audiences by the ear to provoke new thinking. Richard Florida inspired the Tampa Innovation Alliance; Confidence Code author Claire Shipman educated USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy; HSN designer Marla Wynne motivated Dress for Success Tampa Bay; teacher Erin Gruwell energized United Way's Art of Giving and author Jennifer Weiner cracked up the Schaarai Zedek sisterhood luncheon.
Rock & roll for a cure: Besides providing stellar medical care, now the Adventist Health System is gaining a reputation for big name entertainment at the Florida Hospital Foundation's annual Starlight Gala. In past years, Harry Connick Jr, Kevin Costner and Josh Groban wowed big donors. In October, Chicago headlined a cozy dinner concert, rocking 50 years of greatest hits in a Marriott Waterside ballroom.
Early bird special: A line 100-ladies-long waited impatiently outside the preview party, open to the public for the first time, at the Junior League of Tampa Holiday Gift Market. Whooshing into the Florida State Fairgrounds, they got first dibs shopping at 150 merchant booths, plus restaurant samplings and live music sponsored by the Gasparilla Music Festival. Attire: dressy accessorized with cash or credit card. Preview party headcount: 700. Three-day Market attendance: 21,000. Junior League community impact: incalculable.
A camera-shaped cake, a burlesque dancer and amazing break dancers Voice Your Body, in collaboration with Breakin' in the Bay, entertained guests celebrating the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts' 15th birthday in mid-May. Visit the photo collection on the second and third floors of The Cube in downtown Tampa to ensure many more happy birthdays to come.
These joyful givers always have their hands up, not out. On the 30th annual National Philanthropy Day, a handful of donors and volunteers got their due from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Suncoast Chapter. "Quintessential philanthropists" Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton, who together gave $11 million to the USF St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business, were jointly recognized as Philanthropists of the Year. Gene Evans embodies the Spirit of Philanthropy. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Dolan earned Youth In Philanthropy; Charlie Britton received the Gayle Sierens Volunteer of the Year award. The student-run USF BRIDGE healthcare clinic is the 2016 Philanthropic Service Organization; Tech Data takes the Corporation of the Year title .
Celebrity whiplash: You never know who'll turn up at the DeBartolo Family Foundation All Star Charity Gala. Actually, you can count on a ton of San Francisco 49ers, past and present, (like charming Jerry Rice) whose presence helped Eddie DeBartolo and family raise $1 million for non-profits and scholarship grants. NFL legend/actor Jim Brown, Cheers actor George Wendt and Gunsmoke's Buck Taylor joined the celeb roster this year.