On this Sunday Before Election Day, the politicking was heavy just about everywhere. Today's Brunch on the Bay was no exception, as many of our local candidates turned out to shake hands with so many community leaders gathered under one tent.
But politics had to take a back seat for the real reason everyone was there: to celebrate the gift of education.
The University of South Florida has grown to become the ninth largest university in the United States, President Judy Genshaft proudly noted. Since it began, the Brunch on the Bay Scholarship Endowment has secured more than $1.5 million for USF students. The brunch is held on the lawn of the Crosley Estate, neighbors of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, with a breathtaking view of the bay.
Amid the hum of champagne bottles popping and fantastic food being devoured, USF's biggest supporters turned the talk to change. In her welcoming remarks, Margaret Callihan of SunTrust Bank set the stage with her challenge:
"Show up. Stand up. Speak up. Make a difference."
This fund-raiser's success is a stellar statement to the importance of higher education in our community. It's a testament to the area's determination to continue nurturing critical thinking and leadership -- one key way to defy a lagging economy and set the momentum for change.
I hope the politicians were listening.