What great times we had last week raising money for kids and to fight breast cancer while also celebrating everything Italian here in the Capital City.

There’s a different kind of celebration coming up Aug. 1. The night of fun, dancing and libations gets underway at 7 p.m. at The Varsity and will benefit the Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Research Fund. For tickets, go to eventbrite.com. You can make a donation to the fund at gifts.mdanderson.org.

Celebrity Waiters

The fun started July 17 with the Children’s Advocacy Center’s 13th annual Celebrity Waiters Event at the L’Auberge. The event raised $100,000 for the agency, whose mission is to “provide children and their families a solid path to healing and justice through efficient, coordinated and trauma-informed child-focused services in the aftermath of abuse or violent crime.”

Pointe Coupee Sheriff Bud Torres repeated as the king of tips, earning an impressive $10,230. It might have had something to do with his singing performance at the beginning of the night.

Second place went to the LSU Golden Girls, who brought in $3,415, followed by “Golden Boy” Daniel Hoffman, whose tip haul totaled $1,093.

Also donning aprons for the cause were LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux; former Southern University baseball coach Roger Cador; East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark; former Metro Councilman John Delgado; former LSU quarterback Matt Flynn; former LSU Lady Tiger Temeka Johnson; former LSU basketball great Wade Sims and wife Fay; Baton Rouge Community College basketball coach Paula Lee; LSU basketball assistant coach Tasmin Mitchell; Baton Rouge Youth Coalition Community Director Josh Howard (in a neck brace, no less); Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame CEO Ronnie Rantz; “Paradise Louisiana” TV host Gary Rispone; Miss LSU 2019 Keighly Kelly; Visit Baton Rouge CEO Paul Arrigo; BBQ Guys grill master Randy Watson; WAFB News anchors Graham Ulkins and Lauren Westbrook; Deputy Judicial Administrator for Children & Families Curtis Nelson; “The Killing Fields” detectives Leslie Bradford, Lori Morgan and Aubrey St. Angelo; Cajun Navy members Steve Anderson, Jon Bridges, Mitch Collier and Scott Freshwater; LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri; former LSU baseball players Austin Bain and Anthony Ranaudo; and Maj. Todd Morris, commander of special operations for the EBR Sheriff's Department. 

Fox 44 news anchor Chad Sabadie served as the night’s emcee. Also doing a bit of singing was David St. Romain, who now serves as a prevention education specialist with BRCAC.


We were all back out at L’Auberge the following night, feeling oh so in the pink, for the Susan G. Komen circus-themed BigWigs Reveal Party. Sporting some very audacious pink wigs to kick off their fundraising efforts were attorney Franz Borghardt, hairstylist Brien Buxton, BRQ chef Justin Ferguson, fitness instructor Liz Firesheets, state Rep. Ted James, NBC33 news anchor Gerron Jordan, Realtor Mathew Laborde, Erin Reynaud, Dr. Kay Solar, Eagle 98’s Michelle Southern, community volunteer Amanda Standish, interior designer Becky Walker, CPA David Wascom and Derek Howard, of Morgan Stanley.

Kris Cangelosi, who served as chairwoman Stephanie Possa’s co-chairwoman, was ringmaster for the introduction of last year’s BigWigs as well as this year’s group. Karen and Bill Profita handled emcee duties.

If you’d like to vote and support your favorite BigWig, visit batonrouge.info-komen.org.

Italian Festa

Whether you're Italian or not, everyone was speaking with an Italian accent at the Greater Baton Rouge American Italian Association’s two-day Italian Heritage Festa, which moved to the Marriott this year. The fun kicked off July 20 with a dinner and show featuring Lena Prima, daughter of famed big-band leader/singer Louis Prima, and her band, which features her husband, guitarist Tim Fahey. They took us on a toe-tapping stroll down musical memory lane, beginning with “I Wanna be Like You,” her dad’s song from “The Jungle Book.” The band’s rendition of “Sing, Sing, Sing,” which her dad penned for big-band legend Benny Goodman, earned them a rousing standing ovation.

But the performance that brought down the house was when Lena invited committee members Frank and Paul Arrigo and Dr. Phillip Cancelleri along with Frank Maselli, president of the American Italian Museum in New Orleans, to join her onstage for the hit “Just a Gigolo.” Check out the video at theadvocate.com. It's guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Most of us were back the next day for the actual festa. The afternoon featured a vino stroll for charity, Italian language and cooking lessons, genealogy, face painting and the Celebrity Grape Stomp. In keeping what has become a personal tradition, my stomping team (7-year-old grandson TJ and 1-year-old grandson Alex) had fun dancing in a washtub of grapes. We didn’t win — the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank team took home the grand prize of $1,000, but we earned $250 for Capital Area United Way. The team from Anna’s Grace came in second, earning $500 for this nonprofit that assists families who have lost a child.

Earning $240 for their respective organizations where teams from Istrouma Area Council Boy Scouts and Randazzo’s Restaurant & Market, which stomped for St. Jude Children's Research Center.

Email Pam Bordelon at pbordelon@theadvocate.com.