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Benjamin Epstein

Honors Go to 2 From Disneyland

February 27, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

Anaheim proved a small world Saturday night as employees of Disneyland served as guests of honor at two unrelated events.

Though James Cora said he has been associated with the American Heart Assn. "on and off for the last year," he felt he was named honorary chairman of the Heart to Heart Gala at the Hilton and Towers because the organization needed somebody "who's done something this year."

"I'm the negotiator of the contract between Disney and the French government," Cora explained. "We're going to build (a theme park) 20 minutes east of Paris. They haven't signed the contract yet, but we have a letter of intention. You'll see sticks going up in the air in about two years."

Currently executive vice president of Disneyland International and Walt Disney Productions Japan, Cora has worked at Disneyland for 28 years.

"I started out as a ride operator," he recalled. "My first ride was Tea Cups." He admitted there have been some notable changes. "We're still talking 'Bambi,' but we're also talking 'Down and Out in Beverly Hills.' You can talk both."

Patty Barnett of Orange Park Acres has served on the gala committee for all of its five years and been chairman of the event for the past two. "This is my swan song," Barnett confided. "I mean I love it, I love it, I love it--but I'm tired. " She said the dinner-dance and auction raised $40,000 for the Heart Assn.

Reception chitchat revealed that the Orange County chapter of the Heart Assn. was recently beneficiary of a rather heftier sum.

"A gentleman who passed away recently left us $1.2 million," said Michele Stevens, executive director of the chapter. It was requested that the money be used for research, she said; one-third of the bequest was sent on to the national association.

Meanwhile, decorations chairman Pam Goldstein was telling war stories. She lifted the skirt of her Jennifer Blue original--to reveal two mosquito-ravaged legs.

"Seventy bites!" she exclaimed. "I got them on the plane back from Las Hadas (Mexico). I took those emergency cards, you know, with instructions like, 'Jump out this window, jump out that window,' and I was beating those mosquitoes to death on the ceiling! Then I looked down at my feet. . . ."

Program chairman Jodi Ferragamo and her husband were found browsing around the silent auction tables. After a disappointing season with the Buffalo Bills, quarterback Vince Ferragamo said he was "really excited" to have been picked up by the Green Bay Packers the last two weeks of the season. Also spotted were Rams players Jackie Slater and George Andrews.

Between courses of sole and veal, Dr. John West, executive director the Orange County Trauma Society, talked about his book, "Trauma." He said the novel, which is being translated into five languages, gave him a platform from which he could talk about "greedy hospital doctors (for whom) money is more important than people."

Chapter president Dr. Alan Bures counts himself among those doctors who think people are more important. And--despite the fact that almost half of all deaths in the county can still be attributed to heart-related diseases--he seemed optimistic, thanks at least in part to new angioplasty procedures.

"In recent days an artery that was trying to close would have been bypassed," explained Bures. "We'd detour. But much of the time that artery can be stretched back open. We're doing that with a slender hollow tube with a balloon attached. It's making a major difference in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

"And something else has happened, something that doesn't have so much to do with that sort of miraculous intervention. Since the Heart Assn. began promoting low-fat diets, physical exercise, losing weight, controlled blood pressure and no cigarettes, the rate of death from cardiovascular disease has fallen--and very significantly."

Master of ceremonies was KDOC sports director Bob Elder; auctioneer was Elmer Meagher. The women were sent home with crystal roses dipped in 18-karat gold.

Not "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," but, like James Cora, definitely "Up and In in Anaheim," was Mary Bonino Jones.

Jones, who retires as Disneyland's manager of community affairs on Friday to devote more time to her duties as chief of protocol for Orange County, was named Woman of the Year at the Cypress College Americana Awards Dinner at the Disneyland Hotel.

The red, white and blue-themed event, which attracted 600 supporters of Cypress College, generated $65,000 for the renovation of the school's science labs, according to its president, Jack Scott.

Also recognized at the dinner were citizens from each of the seven communities served by the north county campus. Honorees included Edith Rehnborg of Buena Park, Hilliard Warren of Cypress, Fran Jennings-Rafanovic of Garden Grove, Sharon Gutjahr of La Palma, Margrit Kendrick of Los Alamitos and Cliff Ronnenberg of Stanton.

Stan and Theresa Pawlowski, Anaheim residents for 30 years, were the first joint Americana Award recipients.

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