Annual Christmas tree lighting collects toys for hospitalized children

The Marriott Waterside located in downtown Tampa held its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 1 and invited local vendors to join in the event.

Vendors and guests were asked to bring a toy to donate to the Miracle Children’s Network, a charity that raises funds and awareness for children’s hospitals for providing care for patients and furthering research.

After the event all donated items were gathered and shipped to the different locations for the toys to be dispersed.

“A couple of the local vendors we have out here are the Coppertail Brewing Company and the St. Pete Distillery,” Chris Adkins, the marketing and sales director, said.

The event included music, food and good spirits. There was also a Candy Land themed gingerbread model crafted with over 300 pounds of gingerbread by the pastry chefs from Marriott.

Sinai Vespie, the pastry chef at the event, credited his great team as the key to pulling off such a large event.

Vespie went on to talk about how the whole process started in August, but took until the week of Nov. 21 to start putting it together. The event happens annually on Dec. 1 and each year the theme of the gingerbread model changes.

The Marriott Waterside is located downtown on Old Water Street next to Amalie Arena.



Brickworld event in Tampa sparks creativity

Tampa Fla.— Brickworld Tampa, a convention of LEGO creations, held a 2-day event at the Florida State Fairgrounds throughout the weekend of November 19.

Brickworld is a convention of LEGO creations brought to cities around the United States to be put on display by their creators.

“The whole reason we started Brickworld was education and inspiration” Bryan Bonahoom, the execute director of Brickworld, said.

Bonahoom has been a part of the convention for 10 years. Other than providing a way for fans to experience creating, Brickworld is also involved in the community through holding auctions and donating money to multiple charities.

“We typically raise about $25,000 on this Friday night event each year at our show in Chicago,” Bonahoom said.

A few of the charities they donate to include FIRST LEGO League, The Riley Children’s Hospital, Creations for Charity and Make-a-Wish.

Hundreds of creations were on display for the community to visit, and shops were set up throughout the convention selling LEGOs to build. One of the more popular displays this year was a 26-foot-long model of the USS Missouri WWII battleship.

Vera Anjo, a retired teacher, believes that building these creations is a way to keep her sharp and allows her to interact with people.

“Life is never static,” Anjo said.


Edited by: Samantha Nieto

Defying The Odds

When trying to push past your limits, a lot of people say they do not want to hear excuses. That is where the catch phrase “no excuses, no limits” came into play for Luca Patuelli.

Patuelli was diagnosed with arthrogryposis, a disease that limits muscle growth in certain parts of the body. For Patuelli, it took a toll mostly on his legs.

“My dream is to be able to walk,” says Patuelli.

Through hard work and perseverance, he is slowly realizing that dream. Patuelli participated in a 2.5K walk and finished. The amazing part: he did not use his crutches.

Patuelli now travels all over speaking to groups of people to push his message of positivism and encouragement. He wants people to believe in themselves and realize they can do whatever they want— all it takes is confidence.


Campus safety event with USFPD encourages awareness

The University of South Florida hosted a brand new event, National Campus Safety Day, on Sept. 28 that highlighted campus safety awareness.

Multiple organizations such as the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department and the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue came out. The idea of the event was to demonstrate awareness to the citizens of Hillsborough County.

“What we hope is that the police alone, the fire alone, the first responders can’t be always everywhere they need to be all the time,” said USF Police Chief, Chris Daniel. “By educating our community, that makes everybody part of the solution.”

The event lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and was full of students looking to participate. Demonstrations such as CPR with just your hands and how a police K-9 takes someone down were just a few on scene.

“This way there’s an incentive to listen to the information and to meet different people that you ordinarily would not meet,” Daniel said.

For more information regarding campus safety, visit USF’s annual security report and safety guide.