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Seminole Hard Rock Tampa doles out $500,000 to local charities

Dozens of Tampa charity organizations celebrate after each received a $10,000 check from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa on Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo David Galindo/Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)

As a way to celebrate recent milestones, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa decided to help organizations that help others. 

Fifty Tampa organizations – including those who assist in areas and groups such as children and families, education, health, veterans, animals and the environment – each received $10,000 checks from Seminole Hard Rock during a check unveiling celebration Sept. 8 at the Tampa property.

The massive giveaway came as the venue marked its second anniversary of a $700 million expansion and recently reached $1 billion in jackpots awarded for this year by giving away a free BMW to a lucky slots player whose jackpot pushed the casino past the mark. Another reason to celebrate: the Hard Rock brand, which started with a small café in London in 1971 and is now a global force in entertainment, gaming, restaurants and hospitality, turned 50 this year.

“We said ‘Let’s get 50 of our local organizations to celebrate the 50 years,” Steve Bonner, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa president, told the audience.

The result was a stage packed with representatives who gleefully unveiled their poster-size checks that totaled $500,000. Bonner said Seminole Hard Rock has worked with many of the organizations for years, but new organizations were also among the recipients.

“That way everyone in Tampa Bay is a winner,’ Bonner said.

“The Hard Rock has always been so supportive of charities here in Tampa Bay. We couldn’t fulfill our missions without supporters like [Hard Rock],” Allison Gorrell, who represented two organizations, told Seminole Media Productions (SMP). Gorrell is from the Gramatica Family Foundation, which supports disabled military veterans and others through energy efficient housing initiatives and development, and the Ryan Nece Foundation, which focuses on creating opportunities to help teenagers become leaders through volunteering and giving. The Gramatica Family Foundation was founded by brothers Bill, Martin and Santiago Gramatica, all of whom were football standouts at LaBelle High School and in college. Bill and Martin played in the NFL.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa President Steve Bonner, left, with Bullard Family Foundation founder Thaddeus Bullard, aka WWE wrestler Titus O’Neil, at Seminole Hard Rock’s donation event Sept. 8, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

Former Florida State football player and NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who played his entire 14-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, thanked Seminole Hard Rock while addressing the audience.

“I am so extremely blessed to have you guys as our partner as we continue to bring aspirations and dreams come true to the youth here in Tampa Bay through youth education and Derrick Brooks Charities,” said Brooks, whose organization is geared toward helping socio-economically challenged youth.

Similarly, the Bullard Family Foundation assists communities and people in need. The foundation’s founder – former University of Florida football player Thaddeus Bullard, aka WWE superstar wrestler Titus O’Neil – attended the event and praised Seminole Hard Rock for the donation.

“What a way to give back to our community,” the foundation posted on social media with photos of the check presentation.

Several of the recipients included hospitals and other health-related organizations. Fire and police foundations, food banks and museums were among others on the list as well as the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides support to families of Special Operations personnel who lost their lives in the line-of-duty and to those who were severely wounded in combat.

“Thank you for your generosity and support of the families that we serve,” Special Operations Warrior Foundation posted on social media accompanied by photos of its representatives receiving the check.

The organizations were not told ahead of time what to expect at the ceremony, including the donations.

“We are thrilled. What a lovely surprise this was for us today,” Sherry Silk, CEO of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, said to SMP. “This is going to buy a lot of Puppy Chow for our animals at the Humane Society Tampa Bay.”

The 50 charities are:

13 Ugly Men

American Cancer Society

Armed Forces Family Foundation

Best Buddies Tampa Bay

Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay

Boys & Girls Club

Bullard Family Foundation

Children’s Cancer Center

Children’s Dream Fund

Copperhead’s Charities

David A. Straz Center

Derrick Brooks Charities

Feeding Tampa Bay

Florida Aquarium

Glazer Children’s Museum

Gramatica Family Foundation

Habitat for Humanity

HCSO Charities, Inc.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Foundation

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

JDRF

John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

MADD

Make-A-Wish Southern Florida

Meals On Wheels

Mike Alstott Family Foundation

Moffitt Cancer Center

National Pediatric Cancer Foundation

Onbikes

Paint Your Heart Out

Pier 60 Daily Sunsets

Redefining Refuge

RISE Tampa Our Police Foundation

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ryan Nece Foundation

Skyway 10k

Special Operations Warrior Foundation

St. Joseph’s Hospitals Foundation

St. Pete Pride

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation

Tampa Bay History Center

Tampa Bay Sports Commission

Forever 55

Tampa General Hospital Foundation

Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa Pride

The Lightning Foundation

The Spring of Tampa Bay

ZooTampa

(Editor’s note: The date of the event has been corrected in the photo captions. An incorrect date was in the captions when first published).

Representatives from the Glazer Children’s Museum with its $10,000 check from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa on Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo David Galindo/Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)
Representatives from the Florida Aquarium with the $10,000 check from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa on Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo David Galindo/Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)
Representatives from the Children’s Cancer Center with the $10,000 check from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa on Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo David Galindo/Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)
Representatives from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay with the $10,000 check from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa on Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo David Galindo/Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)
Representatives from the American Cancer Society with the $10,000 check from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa on Sept, 8, 2021. (Photo David Galindo/Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)
Performance painter David Garibaldi creates a painting at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa’s donation event Sept. 8, 2021. A total of $500,000 was donated to 50 charities. (Photo David Galindo/Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)
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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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