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Rotary's annual 'Casino Night and Benefit' tonight at St. Bernard

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BRADENTON -- The Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island will hold its eighth annual Casino Night & Benefit at the St. Bernard Church and Activity Center in Holmes Beach on Friday, March 12, starting at 6 p.m.  This year's theme is 'CASINO ROYALE'.

Each year, the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island returns tens of thousands of dollars to a variety of community organizations and other projects that provide basic human needs, locally and internationally. Funds raised at 'Casino Night' also go to Anna Maria Elementary School to encourage literacy and character-building.  While many non-profits struggle to raise money, the needs of so many are exploding.

The Rotary Club understands how much more difficult it is for those who have supported Casino Night in the past so they have reduced the ticket price from $65.00 to $50.00 per person this year hoping attendees will perceive an even greater value. For $50.00 attendees will enjoy delicious appetizers donated by the Sandbar Restaurant followed by an outstanding Italian meal from Mazzaro's of St. Petersburg.

Also included is an open bar, (that's right, an open bar), professional casino-style action, dancing to the music of local favorite Chris Grumly, and bargains galore at both a live and silent auction, This is always a fun evening and only 250 tickets can be sold to this event. 

Some lucky attendee will win the great door prize of a two-night stay in a direct beachfront one-bedroom suite at the Beach House Resort in Bradenton Beach.

The exciting live auction will have several outstanding items including a seven-day cruise on a Holland America ship with a choice of several destinations including the Caribbean, Mexico, and New England/Canada. Other items are the use of a vacation home in the Bahamas and a three bedroom beachfront house right here on Anna Maria Island.

To further enhance the excitement and fun, the well-known 'Rotary Wheel of Hope' will be front and center again this year. This is similar to the 'Wheel of Fortune' game show on TV. There are 48 spaces on the Wheel. Each space is being 'sold' for $50.00 each. At Casino Royale the wheel will be spun. The 'owner' of the winning space will win a seven-night stay at a two-bedroom waterfront vacation home in the Florida Keys not far from Key West.

An anonymous donor has graciously agreed to match all proceeds from the Wheel game and wants the matching funds to be used to provide packaged meals to those devastated by the earthquake in Haiti through a program called Kids Against Hunger. (www.kidsagainsthunger.org). Last year, this game was especially popular for those who could not attend the event but wanted to support and participate in the fundraiser. Attendance is not required to win.

Steve and Pamela Schlueter, who were both past presidents of the Rotary Club, are the co-chairs of this year's 'Casino Royale'. Current club president, Judy Rup is in charge of decorating St. Bernard's Activity Center, Tom and Rosann Creed are handling ticket sales, Michael Northfield is coordinating donation items for the auctions, and Melissa Williams is the Public Relations Chair. Club member, Ed Rup, is coordinating food and beverages.

The Rotary Club thanks all the local businesses and individuals who have made generous cash donations to help offset the costs of the event. The club also appreciates the donations of auction items, including fine art, home accessories, vacation accommodations, and many other attractive items that will be auctioned off.

The Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island helps to support over two dozen area entities. In recent years proceeds from Casino Night has benefited Rotary's Camp Florida, a lakeside camp in Brandon for seriously ill children.

The club's contributions and projects include: American Association of University Women for scholarship; American Cancer Society Relay for Life; Anna Maria Island Community Center; Anna Maria Elementary School (Rotary Reader Patch, Club Tutoring, Peace Pole Project, "Service Above Self" graduating fifth grade student award); AME Christmas Assistance Fund; AME Field Trip Fund; Anna Maria Island Young Professionals; Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra; Anna Maria Island Players; Anna Maria Art League; Audubon Society (local); Better Manatee Day; Anna Maria Island Business Person of the Year; Children's Academy of Southwest Florida; Club scholarship for college student; Dictionaries for third graders at Anna Maria Elementary and three schools in Bradenton; Habitat for Humanity; Holmes Beach Butterfly Garden; Manatee Players Capital Building Campaign; Matching grant with Rotary International and the Rotary Club of Lagos-West in Nigeria for eight clean water wells to serve approximately 70,000 people; Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee Food Bank; Mote Marine Aquarium and Laboratory for Red Tide Research; National Alliance on Mental Illness--Manatee County; Special Olympics--Manatee County; Rotary International Humanitarian Projects; the Rotary Wheelchair Foundation for disabled in 163 countries; ShelterBox USA for Haitian Earthquake relief and other disaster areas; The Women's Resource Center for two women to attend their Life Launch Program; Toys or Tots; "Welcome to Anna Maria Island" sign on SR64/Manatee Ave.; West Manatee Fire Department.

Rotary Casino Night & Benefit is one of Anna Maria Island's most popular social events of the year. Tickets are available from any AMI Rotary Club member, online tickets at www.annamariarotary.org or by calling Tom and Rosann Creed (941-778-2636). The Island Florist is also selling tickets in the Island Shopping Center, 5312 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach.

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