Hibiscus Children’s Center is lucky winner at Viva Las Vero V

VERO BEACH — The Elks Lodge was turned once again into an action-packed Las Vegas style Casino Friday night at Viva Las Vero V, with the ultimate winner being the children of the Hibiscus Children’s Center. 

From outstanding Cuban dishes, donated by Chef Felix of Felix’s Place Restaurant, to guiltless gambling and even some Texas Hold ’em and Blackjack Tournaments for the more adventurous card sharks, the evening was filled with entertainment and activities. Tempting aromas lured guests first into the dining area for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before Felix unveiled his amazing main course, a colossal copper pan filled with a mouth-watering paella of prawns, mussels, clams, calamari, langoustines and other seafood.

“Felix has outdone himself,” said Suzanne Bertman  “He also donated a $10 gift certificate to every ticket holder.”

As guests perused the silent auction items and potential prizes from converted winnings, Silvia Cancio, HCC Guild President pointed to a cute little Teddy Bear.

“Did you see our ‘Guilda Bear?'” asked Cancio, of the glamorous bear with false eyelashes and makeup, jewelry and a little purse.  “She’ll be cared for and nurtured by Guild members and we’ll keep a chronicle of her travels.”

The Guild, a support arm of the organization, is using Teddy Bears to help raise funds for their Annual Support Campaign.  Individuals and businesses are encouraged to creatively dress up and display a bear for six-weeks, and raise or donate a minimum of $250 in support of the campaign.

“Already John Michael Matthews has one with a diamond tiara, and Pampered Life has ‘Spa Bearo,'” added Cancio.

“My bear is Freckles,” said the red-headed Tom Maher, CEO of Hibiscus Children’s Center.  “This is something that’s fun for the whole community.”

Guests had each been given $2,500 in funny money, which they could convert into gaming chips and later, with a little Lady Luck on their side, convert their winnings into chances for an enormous assortment of donated prizes.

Co-chairs Shelly Distl and Debbie Bedell said the event narrowly averted disaster, when the Elks Lodge hot water heater burst Thursday afternoon, causing the room to look more like Lake Okeechobee than Vegas.

“We walked in and you could see your reflection in the floor; it was a lake,” said Distl.

“Service Master came within 15 minutes, with vacuums, fans, heaters, and by 10 this morning we were back in here; it’s not even damp.  We were so impressed,” added Bedell.

And, unlike Vegas odds, it was a sure thing that the crowds gathered around the gaming tables were none the wiser.  At the end of the night, even if their chips were dwindling, they were all just happy to be part of an evening that was helping to rebuild the lives of children.

“There is nothing like supporting the Hibiscus Center,” said Scott Nuttall, one of the event’s sponsors.  “You can’t go wrong supporting anything for kids; especially in this economy.”

Founded in 1985, the Hibiscus Children’s Center celebrated its 25th Anniversary last year, providing services to prevent and reduce child abuse, neglect, and abandonment on the Treasure Coast through its residential care facilities, foster care licensing and training, community mental health services, and a state of the art child development center. {igallery 333}

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