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Thursday, Apr 25, 2019
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YMCA fundraiser has become a Carrollwood rite of fall

— It’s a rite of fall in the Carrollwood area.

Caribana, the signature fundraising event at the Bob Sierra Family YMCA, will be held Nov. 15 at the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida and will feature dinner by Lee Roy Selmon’s restaurants, cocktails and plenty of music, as well as a mechanical bull for the brave to ride and, of course, a silent auction.

The bull ride is keeping with the theme of the event. Gone is last year’s toga party, replaced with these year’s theme, “Back in the Saddle.” Every year the theme becomes more elaborate, said Mercy Powell, an event coordinator.

The event is always a big fundraiser for the YMCA and 100 percent of its donations go toward scholarships for children who might otherwise not benefit from YMCA programs due to financial difficulties. Last year, Caribana raised more than $100,000 for youth development activities such as summer camps, swim lessons, licensed afterschool care and pre-school programs for kids with mental or physical limitations.

“Every penny goes to the kids,” said coordinator Ginger Willms. “There are a lot of people that need our services in Northdale and Carrollwood. It can be that person next door or the person down the street. They work, they have summer camp for their kids and Caribana helps out.”

Powell added, “There is such a great way to raise scholarship funds and Caribana is a great way to do it. It’s all about focusing on the needs of the children.”

And if you are wondering what Caribana actually means: “It doesn’t mean anything,” Powell said. “We just made it up. ... It’s not a place, it’s a state of mind.”

A table of eight goes for $1,000, while individual seats are $125. The organizers are still looking for sponsors and donations for the silent auction.

For information on tickets or donations, visit www.caribanaymca.com.

The Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida is at 4103 USF Cedar Circle in Tampa.

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