This year’s history-making Kentucky Derby provided the theme for three events on the first Saturday in May.
At Live Oak Arabians, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Day at the Derby was rocking to the sounds of the AM/FM Band as guests arrived to shop both silent and live auctions, pull corks for a prize bottle of wine, take a chance on the jewelry raffle and vote for their favorite restaurant after sampling their culinary offerings.
Among the guests were Laura Poché, Ryan Chenevert, Kim and Trey Bowman, Nicole DeMoss, Denise Clause, Lynn Cox Graham, Carla and Troy Hebert and Deborah Trahan.
GaitWay Derby Day
As the race ended, I headed down Jefferson Highway to make my way to Celtic Studios, where GaitWay Therapeutic Horsemanship was holding its Derby Day celebration. When I got there, everyone was in a holding pattern as officials sorted the results, and, in a first in the Kentucky Derby’s 145 years, disqualified Maximum Security and proclaimed Country House as the winner. Like the infamous call in the Saints' game, that debate is going to go on for a long time. Board Chairwoman Jolie LeBlanc announced Lisa Nicholson as the best hat winner and WAFB weather guru Steve Caparotta and, in a repeat from last year, Adam Enamorado as the most dapper men.
WAFB’s Greg Meriwether served as the afternoon’s emcee. A fun guest list included Brien Buxton, Brent LeBlanc, Debbie and Jeff Kleinpeter, Candy Sophsher and Meriwether’s Channel 9 cohorts Caparotta, Liz Koh and Ronna and Chuck Corrente.
White Ribbon Gala
Saturday wrapped up at the L’Auberge Event Center, where the St. Elizabeth Foundation was holding its White Ribbon Gala Founders Ball. In a testament to the foundation’s work in adoption, one of its first babies was honored with the Pam Kinamore Award.
That was Susannah LeBlanc, lovely daughter of Terri and Conway LeBlanc, who were both beaming with pride as was big brother Benjamin. Also on hand for the event were aunt Ann LeBlanc Guercio and husband Rob, founders Gay and Hays Town and Linda and John Spain.
The night featured a fabulous silent auction and an even more tempting live auction, which thanks to auctioneer Brian Fourroux, raised quite a bit of money. Since opening its doors in 1988, St. Elizabeth has helped place more than 600 babies in homes in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans.
On May 2, I had the distinct honor of speaking to the Baton Rouge Symphony League at its 70th-anniversary luncheon at the Baton Rouge Country Club. What I discovered in researching The Advocate’s archives is that it’s really the league’s 72nd anniversary. A story dated Jan. 24, 1947, has Mrs. Cecil Lorio announcing the formation of “a woman’s division of the Baton Rouge Civic Symphony Association.”
That little tidbit allowed my tablemates to win a trivia contest conducted by outgoing President Edy Koonce. Everybody else had Nita Breazeale Wilson as the charter president in 1949. I had that story and lots of photos from throughout the years for a fun stroll down memory lane.
Before my slideshow, Edy presented commemorative treble clef pins to all league presidents in attendance. Mary Jane Dillenberger presented the league’s Service Award to Kelli Lee and Shannon Lewy. Symphony board Chairwoman Meredith Hathorn introduced the orchestra’s new executive director, Eric Marshall, who had been on the job for less than 24 hours. He was one of three gentlemen at the luncheon; the others were Bob Hawthorne and son Trippe.
Women of Distinction
The day before, Girl Scouts Louisiana East honored Southern University Law Center Professor Angela Allen-Bell, Louisiana Public Broadcasting CEO Beth Courtney, Louisiana first lady Donna Edwards and Louisiana Heathcare Connections Community Health representative Priscell Holman as its 2019 Women of Distinction at a luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel. Edwards couldn’t make it but thanked the Girl Scouts and congratulated her fellow honorees via a video.
Beth shared how when she got the call regarding the honor, she quickly recalled the Brownie song, which she proceeded to sing. "I’ve got something in my pocket, it belongs across my face. I keep it very close to me, in a most convenient place. I’m sure you couldn’t guess it if you guessed a long, long while; so I’ll take it out and put it on, it’s a great big Brownie smile!"
She was only a few notes in before practically the entire room was singing along. Holman wanted to know if her award came with a lifetime of Thin Mints. Sounded like a fair question to us.
WAFB’s Diane Deaton served as the day’s emcee. Mary-Patricia Wray chaired the luncheon. Her committee included Linda Law Clark, Bethany France and Robyn Merrick.
The week started off at Baton Rouge Community College’s Entertainment Technology Club’s debut luncheon honoring local filmmaker Tom Bhramayana, writer and producer of the feature film "Tinker.” In a crossover production, the April 29 luncheon was held at BRCC’s Acadian campus in a dining room staffed by members of its culinary program, headed up by veteran chef Jean Paul French.
Released in the summer of 1917, “Tinker" is the story of a hermit farmer who discovers his late father's secret journal containing plans to a magnetic powered machine that could change the world. In the middle of all this, he unexpectedly becomes custodian of his gifted 6-year-old nephew after the child's mother’s untimely death. Bhramayana spoke to the club several weeks before the luncheon, sharing what he’s learned after many years in the film industry.
I enjoyed visiting with my host, club member Stan Spring, and his sister, Melissa, as well as French, who is hanging up his spatula at the end of this month. I also got to chat with Charles Brooks, faculty adviser for the club and head of BRCC’s Audio Engineering within its Entertainment Technologies Division, who is also a professional jazz vibraphonist, percussionist, hand drummer, pianist, clinician and composer.
Later that evening, I joined about 150 guests getting the scoop on diabetes research being done at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at a Scientific Dinner hosted by the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation.
Speakers for the dinner, held at the C.B. Pennington Jr. Conference Center, were research scientists Susan and Jason Collier, who are conducting breakthrough research focused on determining the root causes of Type 1 diabetes in order to develop future prevention and treatment methods.
Unlike the more widely known Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 cannot be controlled with diet and exercise. So, the Colliers and other researchers are utilizing findings from Pennington’s new Diabetes Clinic to assist with their work.
Among the dinner guests were Paula and Jack de la Bretonne, Mary Nell and Jake Netterville, Sue Rainer, BeBe Facundus, Liz Hampton, Vera Olds, Annette Barton and Malcolm Tucker, Mary Beth and Fred Chevalier, Ann Wilkinson, Suzanne Sexton, Mary Ann Sternberg, Diane and Johnny Tate, Virginia and John Noland, Bryan and Skipper Post, Jane Kirkpatrick, Kelly Hurtado, Janet Oleson, Debbie and Kevin Knobloch, Mary and Rob De la Rossa, Cynthia and John Graves, Cynthia Michael and Sheryl Teske.
Shampooing for Hope
Several guys got behind the shampoo bowl at Elude Salon on April 30 to raise money for Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy, which works with students with conditions like ADHD, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia and other learning disabilities. For a donation, I got my hair shampooed by Metro Councilman Matt Watson, who I must confess has a pretty good technique.
By quitting time, Matt, Anthony Ranaudo, Adam Enamorado and WVLA's Gerron Jordan had raised almost $800. Good job, guys!