TAMPA – Guests at the Fashionollia 66 cheered and applauded for the various celebrity and club member models as they appeared on the fashion show’s runaway.
But the biggest cheer came when one guest, Evelyn Yates, offered money to actor Rahim as he unbuttoned his shirt as he danced his way along. Eventually she slipped the bill into his belt – as he played right into her surprise move.
But the real mission of the Tampa Woman’s Club sell-out luncheon was serious.
The March 29 event at the Renaissance Hotel raised funds for Bridging Freedom, a nonprofit combating the domestic sex trafficking of minors. The organization is seeking to bring awareness to the issue and to build a home for the rescued children.
Club president Kathleen Hudson said that 300,000 children are prostituted in the United States, with the average age 12. Florida ranks third in the number of children in the situation, she said.
“When rescued, they need a safe place to restore their childhood stolen from them,” Hudson said.
Laura Hamilton, executive director of Bridging Freedom, thanked the women for their support.
“It takes champions like you to stand up for an issue,” she said.
Models also included Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman; former University of South Florida president Betty Castor; former state Rep. Faye Culp; city council members Frank Reddick and Mike Suarez; Mrs. World April Lufriu; and Mrs. America Austen Williams.
Dolores McIntosh served as chair and emcee of the event. Former state Sen. Helen Gordon Davis , a guest at the event, was recognized as a model in the first Fashionollia, held in 1946 and sponsored by the 114-year club.