By Gary Nager

It may not have raised quite as much money as its organizers may have hoped, but there’s little doubt that no one who attended the GFWC (General Federation of Women’s Clubs) New Tampa Junior Woman’s Club’s 15th annual “Night of 5000” on April 21 at Hunter’s Green Country Club (HGCC) will ever be able to look at one of our nation’s “wounded warriors” and be able to not thank them for the sacrifices they have made for all of us and for this great country of ours.

In a glamorous evening filled with great food, beverages, fun, casino gaming, silent and live auctions and even disco dancing, the stars of the “Night” were still the brave U.S. service men and women who have been cared for at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital on Bruce B. Downs Blvd., south of Fletcher Ave.

Event co-chairs Valerie Casey and Isabelle Jensen and many other members of the New Tampa Juniors put together a spectacular night to benefit the Tampa Fisher House, where the families and significant others of these wounded warriors are housed — for free — while their loved ones receive treatment at the Haley VA Hospital, the nation’s leading trauma center (see page 3).

“Although we don’t yet have final numbers (at least at our press time),” Casey said afterward, “we believe we raised at least $10,000 net, which we are proud to donate to the Fisher House. Isabelle and I want to thank and give credit to all of our 2012 ‘Night’ chairs for their efforts to make this happen for our heroes.”

HGCC provided delicious pasta, hand-carved turkey and slider sandwich stations, plus amazing cupcakes and a cappuccino station, and one entire room was set aside for craps, roulette and blackjack. There was even a photo booth where many attendees got to don funny hats, glasses, masks and other props to pose for their pics.

The live auction items included everything from a “Bring Stonewood (Chef Danny Lee) Home” dinner for eight people to a family reunion package at Walt DisneyWorld.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. General Martin Steele, Fisher House manager Paula Welenc and 2011-12 NTJWC president April Simons were among the evening’s featured speakers.

For info about the NTJWC, visit For the Tampa Fisher House, call 910-3000 or visit

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