Opera Gala 2014
Opera Tampa held its annual gala March 8 at the Straz Center. The event, part of the Florida Opera Festival, was chaired by Kathleen Casey-Shannon and Lea Lavoie Davis. The 140 guests enjoyed a sit-down dinner of lobster risotto, garden salad and tenderloin filet. A live auction included a chance to grace the stage alongside real opera stars. The Anton Coppola Excellence in the Arts Award was given to American baritone Thomas Hampson, but the New York City resident was unable to attend because of illness. The event raised $45,000 for Opera Tampa.
Grace O’Malley Celebration Ball
Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O’Malley hosted its 22nd annual Celebration Ball on March 8 at the Floridan Palace Hotel. A new board of directors was installed, including The O’Malley XXII Lorraine Hutson, the krewe president.
Representatives from 16 other krewes, including Springtime Tallahassee, were among the 275 guests. The event was emceed by husbands of past O’Malley presidents: Michael Albrink (Karen Wells, The O’Malley XIV), Greg Heid (Pat Heid, The O’Malley XVI) and Bill Hogan (Connie Hogan, The O’Malley VIII). It was chaired by Judy Ranney and Kelly Floyd. The O’Malley XXI, Anne Bartlett, presented Hutson with the scepter, the symbol of the office. The Angels of Grace Community Service Award was presented to Melissa Morgan.
Children’s Dream Fund DreamMaker Luncheon
The Tampa Bay Rays were honored with the 2014 DreamMaker Award at the Children’s Dream Fund annual DreamMaker Luncheon, held March 4 at the Floridan Palace Hotel.
The Rays were recognized for hosting the annual All-Star Celebrity and Sports Auction at Tropicana Field, a tradition the team started in 1997. In addition, the team has offered Dream Day with the Rays, Rays on the Runway and other programs for children undergoing treatment for life-threatening illnesses.
The luncheon featured a presentation by Kenneth Wombacher and his family about their trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo., for their 5-year-old son to see bison in the snow.
Rays announcer Dewayne Staats served as the emcee.
Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award Luncheon
Tom Touchton was named the Distinguished Citizen of the Year on March 6 at a fundraising luncheon sponsored by the Gulf Ridge Council of Boy Scouts of America.
More than 400 guests attended the event at the Marriott Waterside, raising $410,000 for the programs and camp properties of the Council, which serves the West Central Florida region.
Touchton, introduced by former award recipient Jim Ferman, was honored for his work creating the Tampa Bay History Center and other community activities. In 1927, Touchton’s father became the first Eagle Scout in Pasco County.
Eagle Scout Ahmed Mohamed, 15, a University of South Florida student in a seven-year medical program, wowed the crowd with his maturity and professionalism. Born in Egypt, he came to the United States as a child and started in Scouting at age 9.
“Scouting got me assimilated into the community,” he said.
The luncheon speaker was Alvin Townley, author of the recently published book “Defiant.”
Benedictine Sisters of Florida /St. Leo University Gala
Saint Leo University joined the Benedictine Sisters of Florida to celebrate in style with friends, family and donors Feb. 28 at Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club. The gala’s theme “Recall the Past, Celebrate the Present and Embrace the Future,” honored the sisters’ 125 years of serving God and the Pasco County community. The event raised $24,000 toward the sisters’ new Holy Name Monastery. Bishop Robert Lynch announced a $25,000 Challenge Match (one to one match) from the St. Petersburg Diocese if the sisters raise $25,000 by the end of March.
Text by LENORA LAKE and KIM PAYNE
Photos by LENORA LAKE, ALESSANDRA DA PRA, ROBERTA SCHOFIELD and KIM PAYNE