Soap opera stars and philanthropic figures mixed during the fundraiser July 21 the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club.
Samantha's Friends brought some Mardi Gras flair July 21 for its annual fundraiser at the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club.
The organization's 'Mardi Gras Madness' event – which benefits Southeastern Guide Dogs – had guests putting on decorative masks and other festive accessories for a Mardi Gras-themed morning. Samantha's Friends connects service dogs with people with disabilities.
Attendees were joined by a series of soap opera guest stars. This year's lineup included past and present Day's of Our Lives stars Christopher Sean, Kevin Spirtas, Patrika Darbo, Jordi Vilasuso, Kyle Lowder, Martha Madison, and Eric Martsolf. The event had a fashion show, silent and live auctions and a semi-impromptu dance party.
Suzy Wilburn, the director of admissions and alumni support for Southeastern Guide Dogs, later told the assembled crowd how she met and bonded with with her guide dog Carson.
"(Carson) allows me to walk down the street with my husband ... and not worry about traffic coming," she said. "He would never let me get in harm's way. I would never let him in harm's way."
Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap rounded out the day's festivities by singing to the gathered crowd. Next year's fundraiser will have a 'The Phantom of the Opera' theme.