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Heart Gallery

'Be Mine 2017: All You Need is Love'

A family's adoption of its third child highlighted The Children's Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay's annual event, which raised funds to increase awareness of foster children awaiting adoptive, forever families.

Steve Mace, 11, joined the Mace family, which includes parents, Chris and Brian Mace, Kota Mace, 17, and Erica Mace, 20, at the sold-out Feb. 9 event at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club.

The Heart Gallery "is such a great cause. They have been with us through it all and we jumped at the opportunity to do this," said Brian Mace who is in the Army and stationed at MacDill AFB.

With the theme "Be Mine 2017: All You Need is Love," about 500 guests — many dressed in bell bottoms, tie-dyed styles, psychedelic patterned shirts, flowing skirts and flowers in the hair — were greeted with daisies.

They bid on silent auction items including jewelry, theme park tickets and sports items and grazed on fruit, sliders and slices of marinated flank steak.

A program — including testimonies from adoptive parents and children still waiting to find their forever families as well as the adoption — concluded the evening

"Every year we come up with a theme that you can attach adoption to," said event decor chairwoman Andrea Layne. "This is not your normal gala; it is whimsical, fun."

The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay features photos and information about children waiting for adoption and has placed more than 450 children with adoptive families since its inception in 2004.

— Times correspondent Lenora Lake

Tampa Garden Club

'For the Love of a Garden'

The Tampa Garden Club transformed into the Land of Oz when the club hosted its annual For the Love of Garden fundraiser on Feb. 10 on its Bayshore facility.

About 150 guests attended the event, with the theme Over the Rainbow, where tables were covered with blue and white checkered cloths.

They viewed silent auction items including foods, stays at hotels, jewelry and more before dining on brisket, hamburger sliders, cheese, fruit and cakes and cupcakes.

Sydney Mueller, 11, greeted guests dressed as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz," which she said was her favorite movie. Instead of holding the dog "Toto," she held Koper, owned by club president Sherry Leffers.

Leffers said the club will contribute funds raised to award two community grants of $1,000 each as well as stage four speaker programs over the next year.

"Next year — 2018 — is the 90th birthday of the Tampa Federation and we will have educational information for the public with our programs," Leffers said.

— Times correspondent Lenora Lake

Preserve Vision Florida

2017 Person of Vision: TIA's Joe Lopano

Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano responded to being named as Preserve Vision Florida's 2017 Person of Vision on Monday evening with heartfelt sentiment about how his rise in the industry embodied the greatness of American achievement and American pride.

Lopano, a native New Yorker who held a number of blue collar jobs like cab driver before rising from a position in the Pan Am mailroom, received praise from friends and family during the event at the Marriott Airport inside TIA. U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow spoofed Lopano with a series of Photoshopped illustrations, but also saluted his leadership.

Mise En Place proprietor Maryann Ference praised Lopano for increasing flights and adding clarity to the area's "blurred vision" about the airport's potential.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough Community College president Ken Atwater also saluted Lopano in taped messages. The event was co-chaired by Kevin Bakewell of AAA Auto Club and Premier Eye Care CEO Lorna Taylor.

— Times staff writer Ernest Hooper

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