By Brock Mikosky

On Thursday, May 22, the Pepin Academies held its annual fundraising gala.  The event, which was held at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa, welcomed its nearly 500 guests with a ten foot sculpture of a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey player.  This sculpture was a gift commissioned by businessman and philanthropist Tom Pepin for Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik, who delivered the gala’s keynote address.  The address, which focused on being “a lucky man” and “giving back often,” was a part of the entertaining program.  This program included performances by Pepin Academies students, an invocation by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach, Tony Dungy and a video tribute to Pepin Academies.

The event’s attendees, who included celebrities from the worlds of business, politics and sports, helped to raise over $200,000 to allow more students in Tampa Bay to be exposed to the positive work done at Pepin Academies.  Pepin Academies is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, tuition-free, public charter school dedicated to the educational needs of students with identified learning and learning related disabilities.    The flagship Pepin Academies campus is located on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa and the school has opened a satellite campus in Riverview off of U.S. 301. The proceeds raised at the gala will be used to support the current Pepin Academies campuses as well as new campuses in Pasco and Pinellas Counties.

The level of community support was clear, as most local elected officials, of both parties, were in attendance.  When asked about the gala, the school’s namesake and one of the founders, Tom Pepin said, “It has been our goal to replicate the academies’ success across Tampa Bay and the state of Florida so that we can reach more students, and thanks to this fundraiser and our strong community supporters, we are accomplishing this goal. We are completing our first year at our satellite campus in Riverview, serving third through seventh grade, with eighth grade being added in August.”

For more information about the Pepin Academies Riverview Campus, call 677-6700.

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