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Published: Thursday, 5/25/2006

Elegant fund-raisers featured feasts, art, and auctions

Food, fun, and fund-raising are popular in Toledo, and the weekend was a major example.

The 11th annual Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation Toledo presented by American Express and Jenn-Air was a gourmet food and wine connoisseur's delight, as well as a great party for a Sunday evening at the Erie Street Market. Guests in cocktail and formal attire arrived at 5 p.m. to enjoy wines, martinis, and delectable edibles as the Scott Potter Trio played.

Craig Joseph, left, Marla Schecht, Gus Mancy, Terri Thompson, and Ty Szumigala at the Taste of the Nation Toledo event at the Erie Street Market.
Craig Joseph, left, Marla Schecht, Gus Mancy, Terri Thompson, and Ty Szumigala at the Taste of the Nation Toledo event at the Erie Street Market.
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Looking especially dapper were honorary chairmen Labib Hajjar and Dean Kasperzak. Billy Shore, who founded the national charity 19 years ago, said Toledo's event is "about the best in the country."

Each of the 1,000 guests paid $150 for a ticket. Seen strolling were Frank and Sharon Unkle, Ken Lay and Rose Richards, Sam Viviano, Cam Nitschke and her mom, Jane Hess, Fred and Julie Treuhaft, Ron and Cindy Folger, Annie and Tom Pipatjarasgit, John Scott, Ken and Deborah Knight, Tim and Jenny Yoder, George Joseph and his mother, Helen, Sara Lyons and her fiance, Paul Palmer, Chuck and Cindy Dana, and Cindy and Jack Niggemeyer.

The feast was put on by 38 of the Toledo area's finest chefs and restaurateurs and two nationally known chefs. Guest chefs were Don Yamauchi, executive chef at Tribute Restaurant in Farmington Hills, Mich., and Christopher Prosperi of Metro Bis restaurant in Simsbury, Conn.

Every morsel was artfully displayed and tasted even better than it looked. From giant bacon-wrapped shrimp to clams, tenderloin, and lobster bisque, and sinfully delicious desserts that included Firelily Chocolate and tasty treats made by Karyn Hajjar, it was all delish. Carson's, Gladieux Catering, Manhattan's, Avenue Bistro, Stella's, Rose and Thistle, and Tango's were among those participating, but all were outstanding.

Brad and Kathie Delp at the Diabetes Association dinner.
Brad and Kathie Delp at the Diabetes Association dinner.
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The Wow Factor enticed guests to dance, dance, dance and burn a few calories. Honorary emcee Diane Larson helped quiet the crowd to a dull roar for a brief welcome. Then big-ticket raffle prizes wowed the winners; only 300 tickets were sold. Licata Jewelers donated lots of gems. A Hearts on Fire pendant valued at $3,700 and presented to all five of TV's "Desperate Housewives" was won by Ron Billings. Dean Kozlowski and Denise Benton both won a Hearts on Fire Dreamstone like those presented as gifts to 2005/2006 Golden Globe/Emmy winners valued at $800. Jay Romanoff, who bought the most raffle tickets, was awarded the same Dreamstone; however, he kindly did not accept the token of appreciation. Chris DiSalle's wife, Pam, went home with an extra bright smile because he won a red sheared mink jacket from Toledo Furs valued at $3,495. Mark Heenan went home with a four-month lease for a Hummer H3 valued at $3,400. La Luna Salon donated a Blissfull spa package valued at $170 and Tammy Bialorucki was the lucky winner. Tim Sherman Signature Harley Davidson donated a one-day bike rental valued at $100 and Bob DeRosa is ready to ride! Ditto for Maureen Kenney, who won a duplicate package. Ann Moon will be slicing up a storm with her new Cutco knives. Deanna Sabatino won a Jenn-Air mixer and Mel Harbaugh won a Jenn-Air toaster.

And if that was not enough, there was an afterparty across the street at The Roadhouse bar where revelers partied until well after midnight.

For some it was an extra long night since there was a chefs/sponsors party at Jeff and Elisa Cooley's Ottawa Hills home the previous night where Beirut and Poco Piatti and the Mancy restaurants prepared a tasty feast, and Heidleberg Distributing whet everyone's whistle.

Event co-chairmen Craig Joseph, Gus Mancy, Marla Schecht, Terri Thompson, and Ty Szumigala, who were very impressed with the Erie Street Market's efforts, estimate approximately $125,000 was raised. That brings the total to more than $825,000 raised since the event's inception in 1996. That's thanks to this year's raffle ticket sales at $50 each, a sell-out crowd, the more than $50,000 raised from sponsors, including local presenters Heidleberg Distributing Co., International Tableware Inc., and Pro-Pak Industries; the generosity of the 38 restaurateurs as well as committee members who included Keith Brooks, Kendall Gigax, Judi Grodi, Michael Jacob, George Kamilaris, Mike Mancy, Corinne Manera, Chuck Mira, Gene Powell, Kathy Rennels, Christi Reagan, Mindy Romanoff, Jen Sullins, Moussa Salloukh, Chris Tracy, and Claudia Vercellotti.

One hundred percent of the ticket sales are distributed to hunger and poverty relief programs, including 70 percent to local charities such as Toledo Day Nursery, Toledo Northwest Ohio Foodbank, Aurora Project, and Toledo Grows.

ANOTHER fun fund-raiser was the 5th annual American Diabetes Association Celebrity Art Auction Gala at the Hilton Toledo Saturday night.

Guests strolled the silent auction tables while the Kevin Korecki Trio played. There was something for everyone, from sports and spa packages to river cruises, scuba diving trips, symphony tickets, art, and more.

There was a superb dinner, then emcee Terry Thill got the evening rolling. Jack Randolph, board president, welcomed everyone and introduced Brad Delp, event chairman with his wife, Kathie. Then, it was showtime as signature artist Richard Reed's painting was unveiled and the auction began. The Delps bought the painting and a glass sculpture.

On with the show, the classy affair featured one-of-a-kind collaborative creations by celebrities with the assistance of local artists. Mrs. Delp created a glass piece with tutor artist Matt Paskiet. First lady of Toledo Amy Finkbeiner made a glass piece with Mike Wallace. Arne Larson of SSOE created sculpture with the assistance of Devon Vergiels. Joe Napoli, general manager of the Toledo Mud Hens, made a Raku pottery masterpiece with Debra Malinovsky. Barb Petee of ProMedica Health System painted a watercolor with Aaron Bivins. Attorney Ron Wingate created a glass piece with John Sutton. And Blade senior business writer Homer Brickey made a sculpture with tutor artist Bernie Andrews.

Among the guests were Dave and Becky Huey, Chuck and Joyce Woodmancy, and Marcia and Don Siemens, who were delighted to win the bid for the Wingate/Sutton glass piece and a Wallace glass piece on the silent auction block.

The Delps, the event chairmen, were assisted by Glen Blohm, Anne Keil Hoffman, Diana Randolph, Steve Shrake, Terry Cady, Tracy Jamieson, and Donna Richardson. The estimated net is more than $18,000, but totals are not in yet. That's not bad for a smaller audience, which these days is the norm for charitable fund-raiser events.



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