Vardalos Tarpon fundraiser proceeds donated to children's group

TARPON SPRINGS - Actress Nia Vardalos' appearance at a late-June dinner-dance soiree in Tarpon Springs gave area residents an opportunity to get up close and personal with the writer and star of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

A little over a month later, organizers of that popular event were able to present its sizeable financial by-products to a local charity.

Two of the dinner-dance and book signing's biggest sponsors - the Tarpon Springs branches of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association and the Daughters of Penelope - along with other influential coordinators presented a check Wednesday evening for more than $4,800 to the Children's Home, in Tampa.

"Instant Mom," Vardalos' book, influenced the selection of the Children's Home as the fundraiser recipient. One of the nonprofit organization's missions is to help place children with stable foster or adoptive families.

"The reason why we chose the Children's Home is because [Vardalos'] book is about adoption and her 10-year experience in the adoption process," said Demetra Lecourezos, chairperson of the committee that put on the June event and owner of the Sponge Docks party favor store Given With Love.

Lecourezos, along with Jim and Ann Miller, presidents of the AHEPA and Daughters of Penelope chapters, respectively, and other Vardalos event organizers traveled to Tampa on Wednesday to present their check to the Children's Home president and CEO Irene Rickus.

Money was primarily raised from the event's ticket sales, book sales and other donations, and Lecourezos said the entire process has been amazing.

"It's been unbelievable," Lecourezos said. "Having Nia at the event and in town was a wonderful experience and it's very rewarding being involved with the Children's Home and to know that we can help in some way."
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