Last week may have been one of the busiest ever. Exhausting, but oh so much fun!
Dancing for Big Buddy
Fifteen Star Dancers and their professional partners shimmied, swayed, jived and tapped their way into the hearts of the record crowd attending the 11th annual Dancing for Big Buddy at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center on April 29, raising a record amount in the process. That made this year's co-chairmen, Erica Mercer and Rock Rockenbaugh, and Executive Gaylynne Mack very happy.
Dr. Rebecca Boudreaux was crowned the Female Audience Winner and got the prize for top fundraiser. She was also proclaimed Hottest Legs by me and my fellow judges John Spain and Dixon McMakin. We gave her male counterpart, Chris Jones, the medal for Spiciest Dancer. He also took home the prize for most online votes.
The trophy for Fans' Choice, which goes to the dancer getting the most text votes at the event, went to Drs. Tatiana and Samir Patel, whose routine we proclaimed the night's Most Surprising. Other big hits with the audience were Marsha Baker and partner Bryan Jordan's "Time of My Life" dance from "Dirty Dancing," which appropriately closed out the show and garnered her "Most Graceful"; Aaron Bayham and Jerisse Grantham's tap routine, which earned him the medal for "Highest Energy" performance; and, as always, the Little Buddies who knocked it out of the arena with their routine to "Uptown Funk" choreographed by Lisa White and Donna Blanchard with Powell-Moise School of Dance.
Here's how the rest of the Star Dancers fared: Brittany Allphin-Smith, Sassiest; Donald Chube, Smoothest Moves; Courtney de la Bretonne Hart, Most Daring; Ashley Frugé, Most Elegant; Jeff Johnson, Best Showmanship; Nial Patel, Most Expressive; Chad Kenny-Possa, Most Suave; Vanda Refermat, Most Vivacious; Amanda Rothrock, Boom Boom; and Ann Tillage, Most Sultry.
It's virtually impossible to go straight home while the adrenaline is still pumping after such a night, so, in keeping with tradition, we all headed to Sullivan's Steakhouse for the unofficial after-party with Sullivan's GM Leo Verde, Star Dancer alum like Dixon and me. As always, what happens at Sullivan's stays at Sullivan's. Let's just say we were there until closing.
Law Enforcement Foundation
I was back at Sullivan's on Sunday evening for a party kicking off the Law Enforcement Foundation's debut golf tournament, and so were several folks who'd partied with Big Buddy the night before. This time, though, we were raising money to provide bulletproof vests and other life-saving equipment for area law enforcement officers.
Victor Howell manned the mic for a lively live auction that raised $70,000 for the cause. Combined with the support of major sponsors Brock, Coastal Bridge, H&E Equipment Services, Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital, Road Runner Towing, Area Wholesale Tire Co., Insurance Procurement and Sullivan's, I think it's safe to say the event was huge success.
Among those assisting foundation director Pat Englade and Verde with the party and tournament were Stephanie Anderson, Deborah Ashton, Bryan Bennett, Melissa Caruso, Chez Cicconie, Max Himmel, Dennis Oliver and Clay Young.
Evening at Windrush
Friday night was a busy one that began at LSU's Rural Life Museum for its annual spring garden party — Evening at Windrush. Actually, the celebration got an early start at a VIP reception hosted by Frances and Johnny Monroe at their home, which is located adjacent to Windrush Gardens. Special guests were the children of the late Will Mangham, a longtime friend of Rural Life and a staunch supporter of Louisiana's historical homes and gardens who was being honored at this year's event. Cam Mangham, brother Britten and sister Susan Bridges seemed to enjoy hearing stories of their father.
Another special guest was Juliette Youngblood, a direct descendant of Steele, Ione, Pike and Jeanette Burden, who donated the 450 acres to LSU in the mid-1960s. She was being honored as this year's Honorary Overseer. Evening at Windrush was chaired by Lauren and Steele Buckhaltz.
I headed to Bocage for my next two parties.
Lisa and Luke Guarisco opened their lovely home for the Baton Rouge Assembly's annual cocktail party welcoming its new members. Giving them the scoop on the history of the organization at a pre-party get-together were Greg Eaton and Assembly Chairman Chris Hall.
This year's new members are Susannah and Carl Babin, Aza and Tim Bowlin, Carrie and Donald Braud Jr., Stephanie and John Cargile, Adele and Alex Dalmau, Amy and Ryan Johnson, Elissa and Charles McKenzie, Charlotte and Al Moreau III, Julie and Michael Perrault, Leslie and Lance Porter, Tena and Chas Roemer, Anna and Jonathan Stuckey, Eva and Mark Ventress, Susan and Jody Vidrine and Susan and David Voss.
Another fabulous home was the setting for the cocktail party fêteing this year's Best Dressed, who will be presented at the Aug. 19 fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Remi and Jeff Jenkins' backyard was the perfect spot for all the fun, which included performances by Air Seekers and a DJ spinning tunes as guests mixed and mingled, sipped libations and noshed on yummy hors d’oeuvres.
Dressed to the nines, showing why they were tapped as best dressed, were Ceily Burkett, Rose Marie Fife, Tonya Toups Gautreau, Manisha Patel, Dr. Laci Theunissen, Dr. Dawn Vick, Kim Wampold, Sunny Mayhall West, Lindsey Whittle, Dr. Carter Balart, Michael Bonnette, Matt Bruno, Mike Edmonson, Todd Foust, Perry Franklin, Lile Lindsey and Patrick Valluzzo.
Unable to make the party were honorees Kelly Hickerson Guirard, John Engquist and Brian Oliver.
As is tradition, hosting the soirée were last year's best dressed — Carol Abadie, Rebecca Butler, Jason Dupree, Holly Edmonds, Melissa Ferachi, Dr. Michael Hanemann Jr., Courtney Hart, April Hill, Kenny Hodges, Michael Marsh, Dixon McMakin, Dr. Kevin McCarthy, Al Moreau, Melissa Mouton, Nial Patel, James Peltier, Stephanie Possa, Peter Sclafani, Kathy Victorian and our hostess.
It was the perfect way to end the night.
Thursday night also had a stunning finale. Gwen and Todd Graves threw open the gates to their magnificent backyard with its showstopper tree house to host the Capital City's second Aioli Dinner benefiting the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts' Louisiana A+ Schools. The invitation list included 160 friends of the power couple, and an impressive list it was. It was fun to rub shoulders with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Paula and Jack de la Bretonne, Sharon and Claude Pennington, Janet Boles, Anne and Manuel Martinez, Leslie and Scott Berg, Rose Hudson, Sean Reilly, Kathy and Michael Victorian, Suzanne and Jim Horton, Manisha and Rubin Patel, Christine and Mickey Parenton, Whitney Vann and Robert Schneckenburger and Dathel and John Georges.
And boy, did they all step up to the plate. Before dinner, Todd said he was confident the night's live auction was going to raise $50,000. Well, it raised almost $70,000!
Sips & Suds
The night started at the McMains Children's Development Center for its fourth annual Sips & Suds Champagne and beer stroll. The evening's toast was led by local orthopedist Dr. Brad Culotta, medical director of the center. My fellow Big Buddy judge, John Spain, served as auctioneer for the live auction. Among the items up for bids were an LSU game day package and several trips.
Emily Mayo chaired the event. Assisting her were Jaimée Little Brooks, Mary Kay Devillier, Ellen Friedman, Noël Funderburk, Jenny Hebert, Katherine Inzer, Karen Kennedy, Doug Leyda, Jay Little, Selina Loupe, Tracey McMains, Emily Melancon, Angelle Simon, Linda Spain and Executive Director Anne Hindrichs.
It was a sea of pink at Woman's Hospital on April 26 for its Woman's Impact Luncheon. Welcoming the record crowd was Pete Bush, chairman of Woman's annual giving campaign. The hospitality continued with CEO Teri Fontenot, who also gave us an update on the latest news from the hospital.
For instance, through its Mammography Coach, screening mammograms were given to more than 4,000 women, 50 percent of whom were indigent. A second coach is expected to hit the road this summer. Woman's also broke ground on its new cancer care facility, a partnership with Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center that will allow women to receive gynecological and breast cancer treatment at Woman's.
Sharing why being able to do this is so important and personalizing the hospital's impact was Amy Teague, who was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and was treated at Woman's. Today this mother and wife is in remission.
'Celebration of Hope'
LATAN's "Celebration of Hope" took me downtown later that evening, where the setting sun over the Mississippi River created a majestic view from the Shaw Center's River Terrace. The mission of the Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network is to help people of all ages with functional limitations or disabilities gain greater independence through the use of technology.
This debut event recognized LATAN's Spirit of Hope award winners: The Spirit of Hope — Walter Bonam, of New Orleans; Hope is on the Way — Trach Mommas of Louisiana; Hope "AT" Work — Avoyelles Society for the Developmentally Disabled; Hope & Grace — SOAR (Strengthening Outcomes with Autism Resources) and Families Helping Families of Acadiana; Hope in Public Policy — state Sen. Fred Mills Jr.; and Message of Hope — Kaci Yoder, 225 magazine.