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Champs Celebrity Sports Night a big hit for center

The Champs Celebrity Sports Night, benefiting the 13th Avenue Community Center, has a problem that every fundraiser dreams about. It keeps outgrowing its venue.

In its seven year history, the popular dinner and auction has been held in the River Wilderness Country Club, the Mangrove Grill and the Fete Ballroom. Last Friday night, it filled the Sarasota Hyatt ballroom. What’s next?

If 13th Avenue Community Center executive director Patrick Carnegie has his way, it will be held at the center’s new facility. The big news at the gala was that they expect to break ground on the long-awaited construction in August.

Sports fans like Jason and Lauren Sato, Scott and Janae Rudacille, Jason and Catherine Bartz, and local Pittsburgh Pirates head Trevor and Sheri Gooby filled the room for a chance to rub shoulders with the sports legends in attendance. Soccer star Mia Hamm led the roster, which included stars Luke McCown, Earl Morrall, Dave Andreychuk and Michael Ray Richardson.

Event host John Wompey provided the sideline reports with interviews from celebs and guests broadcast on big screens throughout the cocktail hour warm-up. The live and silent auctions, offering dream packages like World Series tickets and one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia, added to the fun and the coffers.

Some special guests reminded everyone that the party was all about “the kids.” A pint-sized squad of 13th Avenue Center cheerleaders kicked things off (literally) with some enthusiastic cheers.

Rebecca Kreitsek, Champs vice-president of human resources, has been at the helm of the event since its beginning, with plenty of help from vice-president of marketing Rob Broderson.