The crowd of 1,400 that filled the Raising Cane's River Center Exhibition Hall on Aug. 11 were dressed almost as well as those honored on stage for the 51st annual Best Dressed Ball benefiting the American Cancer Society.
Former Best Dressed honoree Dixon McMakin got the lowdown on everyone's attire as they walked the red carpet before posing for the paparazzi, aka See-Hear Productions. Once inside, we were welcomed by ball Chairwoman Leslie King, Co-chairwoman M’Elaine Jumonville and Robert Morris, vice president of regional community development for the American Cancer Society.
Having a blast in the spotlight as tons of confetti rained down were honorees Shannon Barksdale Mahon and Dr. Kenny Civello, Brooke Bickley and David Lanoix, Shannon Blackstone Smith and Al Landry, state Rep. Paula Davis and Jody Montelaro, Dr. Wendy Do and Richie Edmonds, Erin Mosely and Ty McMains, Kristy Parks and Kurt Ainsworth, Jeanne Robert and Mike Polito, Kim Truesdale and Ryan Clark, and Ashley Uter and Prescott Bailey.
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Also in the spotlight were Raising Cane’s founder and local philanthropists Todd and Gwen Graves, who were presented this year’s Julia Woods Dickinson “Heart & Soul” award by last year’s winners Carla and Dan Jumonville.
While the night was all about a good time, there was a higher purpose for pulling out all the fashion stops. We were reminded of that with the heart-tugging testimony of cancer patient Sheldon Strasner. That, plus the chance to win a $10,000 gift card from Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, enticed donations for the Fund the Mission drive conducted by Ruffin Rodrigue and Julio Melara, with help from Blake Whittle, Marsha Baker, Dixon and M’Elaine.
The drive was kicked off with a $50,000 pledge by Ryan and Raven Jumonville, and when all was said and done, an impressive $340,000 had been pledged to help in the fight against cancer.
The night wrapped up with dancing to the sounds of Az-Izz and a grab-and-go McDonald’s midnight snack complements of Valluzzo Companies. Before I left, I enjoyed partying and visiting with the Jumonville family, Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, Diane and Johnny Tate, Terri LeBlanc, Erica Mercer, Layne McDaniel, Metro Councilmen Matt Watson, Kathy Chenevert, Kenneth Brown and Matt Bruno, Sharon and Claude Pennington, Whitney Vann and Robert Schneckenburger, Kelly Thorguson, Manisha and Rubin Patel, Staci Duhé, Sherry McKay, Debbie and Rickey Heroman, Allison and Ty Hingle, Congressman Garret and Carissa Graves, Sacha and Drew Tessier, Meg Casper and Eric Sunstrom, Allison and John Traxler, Jamie and Chris Nakamoto, Kris Cangelosi and Guy Blanchard, Abby Hamilton, Anne and Manuel Martinez and, of course, this year’s best dressed and the committee
Laila Simone Hampton, daughter of Tiffany and Cedric K. Hampton Jr., reigned as queen of the 53rd annual Debutante Cotillion presented by the Baton Rouge Delta Development Corp. and Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter on Aug. 4 at the Baton Rouge Marriott. Her escort for the evening was Myles Victor Patin, son of Dr. Dawn Mellion Patin and Marlon L. Patin.
Hampton also received the Virtle T. Jones Scholarship and a cash prize for selling the most ads for this year’s cotillion. Cash prizes for ad sales also went to First Princess Carrigan Lynette Lewis, daughter of Dr. Carolyn and Charles Moore, of Prairieville; and Second Princess Morgan Laine Butler, daughter of MeChauna L. Butler. The cash prizes were presented by corporation Treasurer Waree Dorsey Waits.
Lewis and Butler were also voted Miss Congeniality by their fellow debs. Lewis was escorted by Donovan Alexander Bailey, of Atlanta, son of Veronica “Vicky” Jones; and Butler was escorted by McKhaleb Kylen Kemp, son of Marlyce and Michael Kemp. These awards were presented Alicia Thomas, personal development chairwoman.
The Ora Nobles Evans Scholarship Award went to Trinity Reneé Smith, daughter of Lois Bridgewater Doyle, of Addis, and Hilary T. Smith, of Plaquemine, who was escorted by Rodney Alexander Franks Jr., son of by Toni Milligan, of Plaquemine, and Rodney Alexander Franks Sr., of Seattle. The Sadie Conner Keel Scholarship went to Fifth Princess Chassity I. Williams, daughter of Tonja Walker-Keller and Chad L. Williams, of St. Gabriel, who was escorted by Demond Smart, son of Tonisha Shepard and Tanzel Smart.
Scholarship awards were presented by alumnae chapter First Vice President LaConga Hilliard and corporation Vice President Joyce S. Louden.
Rounding out the coterie were Third Princess Tearaney Desí Maire Ephrom, daughter of Tahari Ephrom, escorted by Quentin Quin, son of Shante and Quentin Pollard; Fourth Princess Kemijah Patrece Craig, daughter of Larry and Arlene Franklin, escorted by Malik Anderson, son of Deanna and Gary Hunt; Sixth Princess Thai Renae Alex, daughter of Daphne Hughes-Alex and Tenoa Jerome Alex, escorted by Desmond Honoré, son of Pamela and Darryl Honoré, of Zachary; Kyla Monet Cunningham, daughter of Trakissia and Derrick Tolbert and Brandon Cunningham, of Atlanta, escorted by Darrin Bedell Jr., son of Keysha Richard and Darrin Bedell Sr.; Torianna Brioné Franklin, daughter of Latasha and Robert Franklin, of Baker, escorted by Mitchell Turner Jr., son of Gloria Turner and Mitchell Dewayne Turner Sr.; JaLani Brionne Hill, daughter of NiJel L. Hill, of Gonzales, escorted by her brother DeRayne Franklin Jr.; and Jamonda Erin Warner, daughter of Wanda and James Warner III, escorted by Troy Lodge Jr., of St. Gabriel, son of Susan Lodge and Troy Lodge Sr.
Also honored at the cotillion were the Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, represented by Executive Director Lorri Burgess, and the BRidge Agency Inc., represented by founder and Executive Director Nicole D. Scott. They received this year’s Community Service Awards, which recognizes organizations that render "outstanding community service.”
Serving as esquires for the evening were Mason Dunlap, son of Cynthia and Michael Dunlap, and Dwayne A. Thomas Jr., of Plaquemine, son of Allisha P. Thomas and Dwayne Thomas Sr.
Tisha R. McKinney is president Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter, and Shirley L. Henderson is chairwoman of the Baton Rouge Delta Development Corp. Cotillion co-chairwomen are Natasha Seals and Waits.