When it comes to the "Granting Wishes", the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is committed to raising money to help non-profits in the Tampa Bay area.  This past August, the casino raised money to support Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida and hosted a Make-A-Wish Fundraising Event on Friday, August 28th in the Hard Rock Cafe.  

This exceptional evening featured a red carpet ceremony, Charity Slot Tournament, Wish Kids, a benefit concert featuring Tampa Bay Acoustic Music Festival headliner Travis Williams and a check presentation to Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida Chapter for $7,495!

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions.  Whether a child dreams of a trip to Disney World, Hawaii, NYC or a visit from Justin Bieber, these wishes help the children and their families feel stronger, more energetic and better able to battle their medical conditions. 

On average, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants a wish every 37 minutes.  Here in Tampa Bay, the Make-A-Wish Suncoast Chapter, serving Hernando, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, is on track to grant 304 wishes this year!  Lisa Andrews, Regional Director of the Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida Chapter, says "ask any kid and they will tell you, it was the best day of their lives!".  

To help turn more wishes into reality, the casino raised money for the Chapter by donating 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of their limited edition Make-A-Wish navy blue sunglasses as well as proceeds from sales of the 2015 Seminole Hard Rock Girls Calendar.  

To further support the Chapter, the casino hosted a Make-A-Wish Fundraising event.  The event kicked off with a Charity Slot Tournament where the casino raised additional money for the Chapter by donating fifty percent of the $10 tournament entry fee to the Chapter and 50 percent to the prize pool. Open to the public, everyone had fun playing the slots for the chance to "win big" while also supporting the dreams of children with life threatening medical conditions.  

Hard Rock Calendar Girl Miss August Sonia, joined by Wish Kids Gracie and Abbie Grace, greeted players and guests on the Red Carpet:

Wishes danced through the air during a benefit concert by singer-songwriter-guitarist Travis Williams.  Williams was recently discovered at the Hard Rock Cafe's Tampa Bay Acoustic Music Festival this past June and was thrilled to be back supporting Make-A-Wish. Joined by singer Adrienne Richards, Williams and Richards kept the giving going with some particularly relevant songs including Matchbox 20's "Long Day" and Tom Petty's "You Don't Know How It Feels".

Natalie Claro, another local singer discovered at the Hard Rock Cafe's Tampa Bay Acoustic Music Festival, stopped by to show her support of the Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida Chapter:

After the concert, I had the chance to sit down with Wish Kids Gracie and Abbie Grace, both 10 years old, to learn a little more about them and their involvement with Make-A-Wish.  Both girls were granted wishes through the program and were able to take their "dream trips" with their families.  

Gracie flew to the Big Island of Hawaii to swim with dolphins, take a helicopter tour and attend a traditional luau.  "I loved that my whole family was included and swimming with the dolphins was my favorite part".  

Abbie Grace traveled to Walt Disney World "to be a princess" for a week and stay at the Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.  "I loved eating ice cream for breakfast and it was the first time I touched or went near the water with a mask".

Now that Gracie and Abbie Grace have received their wishes, they help and support other children who are waiting for theirs.  Abbie Grace believes the best part of the Make-A-Wish program is "seeing a child have what I had and raising money for it". As I ran to grab a kleenex for my watering eyes, I gained a new appreciation for the Make-A-Wish program and the impact it has on these childrens' lives.

The highlight of the evening came when the casino presented a check to the Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida Chapter for $7,495!  According to Andrews, this donation will allow the Chapter to make one childs' wish come true!  

Many thanks to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa for their support of the Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida Chapter and for helping give one deserving child the best day of their life!

The giving continues this September as the casino supports Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay.  Hands Across the Bay supports programs, organizations and individuals who are dedicated to improving the quality of life in Tampa Bay!  Show your support by rocking the limited edition Hands Across the Bay gold shades and attending the Charity Slot Tournament on September 27th!