Sailing along at 40

Rodrigo & Bridgette Domingos

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — When you meet someone as selfless, giving, intelligent and community-minded as attorney Bridgette Domingos, you know something as special as her 40th birthday has to be celebrated.

Her husband, Rodrigo, reached out to her friends Bonnie Harvin, April Goodwin and Chelsie Lamie for help in pulling a surprise party off. Her family, friends, co-workers and the legal community were also more than willing to be a part of the celebration for such a kind-hearted soul.

Rodrigo and the team went to work planning the surprise celebration. They prepared a list of people who played a role in her life, and made phone calls, sent text messages and e-mails to reach supporters.

Harvin, Bridgette’s hairstylist, skillfully prodded valuable information from the attorney while grooming her hair during appointments. Rodrigo slightly broke the couples trust code by gathering contact information out of her phone when the opportunity presented itself.

He was good at it too; however, on one occasion while Bridgette was asleep, he knocked an object off the dresser causing enough noise to awake her and find him on the floor next to the bed. His quick-witted excuse saved the plan. Whew, close call!

After several weeks of painstaking efforts to make the attorney’s birthday special, the day finally arrived.

Last Saturday, on a beautiful and cool evening with slightly overcast skies, more than 60 guests set sail on Yacht StarShip out of Tampa to celebrate her surprise 40th birthday party. The atmosphere was right for Bridgette to enjoy a nice dinner cruise with her husband.

She already had an exquisite dinner with her household the night before, so nothing more was expected. Rodrigo dropped her off in front of the loading dock as he went on to park the car.

“You wait right here,” he said, “and I’ll be right back.”

The boat’s host met them at the gate and directed them to their “private” quarters for a cozy dinner for two. I told you this would be good!

As the two of them walked up the stairs to the dinner floor, Bridgette could feel the breath of shock leaving her body. Wait! Why is my mother here she thought? Just beyond the view, she recognized her brother Bosie “Munch” Jackson, who never leaves Gainesville.

Then she saw Fontella Cunningham-Moore, her best friend since sixth grade. Two of the biggest surprises of the evening were Sherron Madison, her godmother who was her teacher in Italy and William Allen, her former high school basketball coach who was also in Italy.

One of the people she looks up to most, Christine Harper, her aunt, came from Atlanta to help celebrate. The moment was overwhelming for her.

“To see the tears rolling and the genuine surprise and gratitude made it all worth it. As her husband, I am proud to create such a memory in her honor,” said Rodrigo.

Joshua Gayle, an accountant and close friend residing in Riverview, said Bridgette is indeed a one in a billion type of person. Her ambition, strength, intelligence, hospitality, loyalty, dedication and love for God make her the kind of person that anyone would love to be around and call a friend.

Jamila Little echoed those sentiments. The two met in the Fred G. Minnis Bar Association when Bridgette was vice president. When Bridgette became the president, they served on the board together.

“She is an excellent attorney and a person with a genuine heart. Bridgette is one of the few attorneys that I call on for advice on criminal law cases,” said Little.

Sailing to 40 became quite the travel experience for Bridgette, the attorney known for being thorough with attention to detail. On this evening, her friends, family, co-workers and the legal community charged her with being worthy of celebration.

The verdict is out–a good time was had by all.

To reach Dexter McCree, email

scroll to top