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Benjamin Epstein

Cinderellas Show That if the Shoe Fits...

February 11, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

At Childrens Hospital of Orange County--also known as CHOC--the Cinderella story is told a little differently. In this version, the carriage never turns back into a pumpkin, no ball gowns revert to rags.

A glass slipper and an elegant dinner-dance still play their part, however, as evidenced at an underwriters' party Saturday night at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.

If the person whom the slipper ultimately fit didn't exactly look the part, well, sometimes that's the price you pay when fairy tales come true.

In fact, the CHOC Cinderella Guild Glass Slipper Award went to CHOC board member and past fund drive chairman Robert Segal of Corona del Mar.

"I was asked a very embarrassing question earlier this evening," Segal said, accepting the Glass Slipper. "The question was: 'Why are you getting this award?' Well, I really don't know why I'm being honored," he continued, eyes twinkling, "but I think it's about time. . . .

"I don't know why I'm getting this award except (foundation board president) Charlie Hester told the guild to give it to me. And he told me I was to be here to get it. No, really, it's a great honor; I'll treasure it always, and when my prince comes along. . . ."

"Damn, that's me!" said Segal's wife, Kathryn, joining her husband for a kiss at the podium.

Presenting the award was master of ceremonies Bob McCurdy, who outlined the purpose of CHOC: He explained that the facility is a private, non-sectarian, nonprofit, community-supported hospital, devoted to the care of sick and injured children through age 17, regardless of ability to pay. The role of the guilds, he said, was not only financial: "These guild ladies last year volunteered more than 80,000 hours of their time, and their husbands' time too."

Betty Finnegan, chairman of the Cinderella Guild's upcoming major fund-raising benefit, the Designs for Dining home tour, thanked guild member Rosemary Barneson for two reasons: First, she was chairman of the intimate, elegant dinner; second, Barneson was responsible for securing a Newport Harbor Spastic League grant in the amount of $50,000, announced at the dinner, to be given to the CHOC Foundation through the Cinderella Guild for children with cerebral palsy.

"Rosemary knew where the money was buried and went after it," Finnegan said. "Including that grant, we can expect to make $75,000 from this dinner tonight."

Slippers for Women

Underwriters were treated to smoked salmon mousse with mustard sauce and caviar, watercress soup, a Wellington-like "filet Sophie," and endive and mache salad; the wines--a Meursault and a Newton Merlot--provided a perfect complement. Individually blown, three-inch-heel slippers--the heels filled with water, each with a different flower--graced the women's place settings.

During dinner, guild member Alice Munson said she has two reasons she supports CHOC: twin grandsons.

"They'll be 3 years old in April," she beamed, then turned serious. "When they were 6 months old, one came down with meningitis--today, he doesn't have anything wrong with him at all. The care he got at CHOC--as long as I live I'm going to do something for this hospital." Munson's husband of 46 years, Ward, is president of Padrinos, the men's support group for CHOC.

President Lynn Cancilla talked with pride about the mostly Newport Beach-based Cinderella Guild.

"Every year we break a record," Cancilla noted. "There are 14 guilds, together we raised last year $500,000. The Cinderella guild raised $115,000 of that."

Guests included CHOCO the bear (Segal feared the bear's white tennis shoes would never pass the Pacific Club dress code), Barry von Hemert, who will again host a tea in conjunction with the Designs for Dining benefit, and honorary dinner chairmen Jim and Irene Bentley.

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