Andre Pamplona is relatively new to the area, having moved to Lutz from Miami just last June.
But, that didn’t stop the general manager of Royal Lanes Bowling from jumping into the race to become Lutz Guv’na.
Pamplona was first encouraged to run by Suzin Carr, who serves as ambassador for the annual race for the honorary title. Carr is the only one who has been named Guv’na twice in the Lutz charity event.
For Pamplona, it was a “no-brainer” to throw his name into the hat, and “help the community” through fundraising.
Having a storefront property in Lutz has made fundraising efforts relatively seamless.
“One of the things we already do a lot here at Royal Lanes is try to make a venue for nonprofit organizations to raise funds in a very inexpensive way,” Pamplona said. “We try to gear it to as many different groups as we can,” he said.
“It’s one of those things where the community is aware of (the Guv’na Race) because it’s been around for so many years, so it wasn’t really something I had to pitch too hard,” he added.
As one of just two Guv’na candidates, Pamplona has also been able to make several newfound personal connections while acclimating himself to his new surroundings in West Central Florida.
“Everyone’s been very receptive,” he said. “I was able to meet a lot of people in the community that otherwise would have just been patrons of mine, but they don’t see me face-to-face and you don’t get to say ‘Hi’ all the time. So, you’re able to meet different people in the community.”
Pamplona has already raised “quite a bit of money” through a few fundraising events at the bowling alley. He’s also received some donations from bowlers at Royal Lanes.
Not big contributions, mind you.
“It’s been nickels and quarters at a time,” he said.
Whether he wins this year or not, Pamplona said he’d “definitely” consider getting involved in Guv’na festivities again.
“Because I have the (bowling alley), it makes no sense for me not to do it every year,” he said.
“Even if I don’t run, I’ll maybe get behind a candidate to hold events here at Royal Lanes; a lot of people that ran in the past didn’t have a storefront or a brick-and-mortar, so it was hard for them to raise funds.”
One aspect of the Guv’na Race that Pamplona won’t soon forget is his participation in last month’s amusing Lutz Guv’na Debate at the Old Lutz School, where he squared off against fellow Guv’na candidate Greg Gilbert, of Beef O’ Brady’s, in a mostly tongue-in-cheek event. That’s where Pamplona unveiled his campaign slogan: “Raising the education of bowling.”
“It was a lot of fun,” he said about the debate. “The good thing about it was instead of being a serious or tense thing, we came up with a lot funny answers here and there; the watermelon-eating contest was the best part.”
The Guv’na race continues through the Fourth of July weekend, where the winner is announced, and earns the coveted “sash” from the prior year’s winner. Last year’s winner was Jennifer Rankin, who raised more than $9,200 throughout the 2015 race.
The annual charity event— which started in 1991— is sponsored by the Lutz Civic Association, and benefits about 20 local causes, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Old Lutz School and the Friends of the Library.
The winner of the Guv’na Race may also earmark 10 percent of what they raise to the organization of their choice.
If you’d like to contribute to Pamplona’s campaign, call (813) 949-3606.
Published June 15, 2016