One of the most anticipated events here in the Capital City is the annual Best Dressed Ball benefiting the American Cancer Society, and those who turned out for the Aug. 10 event at the Raising Cane’s River Center were not disappointed.
At press time, Chairwoman Michelle Lanoix and Co-chairwoman Leslie King were still tallying the proceeds, but it looks to be between $800,000 and $900,000. An impressive total raised on an impressive night.
The celebration began with a Champagne reception, where the sold-out crowd mingled, admired everyone’s attire and got interviewed on the red carpet by Kelley Miglicco and Dixon McMakin. T-Ray the Violinist provided the perfect electrical vibe.
When the doors opened, the River Center sparkled in the soft glow of a multitude of candles, white-covered chairs tied with gold gossamer ribbon and exquisite table centerpieces.
The honorees shared in a video how their lives have been touched by cancer and then showed off their dancing skills on the runway. The night’s winners were my “Dancing for Big Buddy” buddy Melvin Hardnett and Danna Hodges with their smooth hip-hop moves. Check out the video online.
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Their fellow honorees included Dr. Rebecca Boudreaux and Brad Cresse, Kerri Lynn Brantley and Dr. Brad Culotta, Gwen Engquist and Ian Dallimore, Ashley Fontenot and Michael Hackley, Adrienne Hollie and Garrett Hiebert, Jeanne McCollister McNeil and Scott Mabry, Shaunna Oliver and Dr. Samir Patel, Karen Profita and Ben Ross, and Rebecca Valluzzo and Dr. Steven Spedale.
We were all reminded of the real reason for the night by ACS Executive Vice President Jeff Fehlis, who shared how the funds raised are spent, and the heart-tugging story of Holly Hollis Stars, this year’s survivor honoree. Equally as touching was the presentation of the Julie Dickinson “Heart & Soul” award to Kim and Trey Bowman, who turned the tragic death of their young daughter into help and hope for children battling cancer. It was presented by Gwen Graves, who received the award with husband Todd at last year’s ball.
The night wrapped up with dancing to the sounds of Creativity and, at midnight, guests grabbed a late-night McDonald’s snack courtesy of Valluzzo Companies.
Kelli’s Birthday Bash
Best Dressed wasn’t the only cancer-related fundraiser. Earlier in the week, I was at L’Auberge for the sixth annual Kelli’s Birthday Bash benefiting the Kelli Leigh Richmond Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
The foundation was started by Kelli’s parents, Patsy and Ron Richmond, in memory of their daughter, who lost her battle seven years ago. Proceeds from the gala go toward granting the birthday wishes of women batting cancer and to keep Kelli’s Kloset, which allows women to have clothes that fit as their weight fluctuates during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. And, as Ron explained, they now offer clothes, shoes and toys for clients’ kids.
“If we had a list of those we need to thank for their support, it would be a mile long,” he added.
Featured speaker for the evening was LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who, like so many of us, immediately fell in love with Kelli after meeting the “bubbly, wonderful person with the infectious smile.”
“I remember the courage she displayed as she fought for her life,” said Mainieri. “It meant a lot to me and the team.”
He also recalled the past year after losing his 90-year-old dad. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to go through,” the coach said. “I had him for 61 years; I can’t image losing a child.”
Also sharing her story was birthday wish recipient Shannon Hesler, who after six chemo and 28 radiation treatments, is now in remission. She and the other dozen recipients were recognized with thunderous applause.
Emcee for the night was Matt Moscona, host of 104.5 ESPN “After Further Review.”
Before heading to the Birthday Bash, I popped into the home of Erin and Russell Mosely for the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum's 34th annual Gala host committee party.
Guests came bearing a bottle of their favorite wine to include in the silent auction wine baskets at the gala, "CHROMA: Color Your Senses," which takes place Sept. 20 at the museum. You don't want to miss this evening of food and drinks, music and the Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry grand raffle.
Some of my favorite people were there including gala Chairwoman Kathy Victorian, board Chairman Patrick Valluzzo and wife Rebecca and Ty and Kimberly Bromell. It was a pleasure to meet LASM's new executive director, Serena Pandos. If her personality is any indication, LASM is in very good hands.