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Benjamin Epstein

Ice Is Nice for Associates Fund-Raiser

July 14, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

As it turns out, sometimes the best thing for trauma is ice.

Diving doggies and dancing dolphins may be the newest attractions at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, but for the first fund-raising event of the Associates, a support group for the Orange County Trauma Society, founding president Virginia Knott Bender settled instead on the "Superstar Ice Spectacular," starring skater Robin Cousins, winner of an Olympic gold medal in 1980.

The evening also included a "Country Party": By the time Snoopy arrived on the scene a la Tinkerbell, swooping down from the ceiling to start the show, the 200 Associates and friends had enjoyed cocktails in Ghost Town and a high-carb meal in Jeffries Barn.

"It's a good thing leather stretches," said guest Patty Brennan at the end of dinner--fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, boysenberry pie and ice cream--which featured some of park co-founder Cordelia Knott's original recipes. Beer was served in little glass boots.

According to Bender, Wednesday's party and show raised at least $15,000 for the Trauma Society.

According to the society's executive director, Dr. John West, the money will be used "to put Orange County's trauma centers out of business."

He was only half-kidding.

"Our centers have been a model for success," West said. "But the emphasis with the Associates is going to be preventing the traumatic event from ever occurring--getting people to buckle up, pool safety, no drinking and driving, helmets for motorcycle riders. One hundred and fifty thousand die every year from trauma. Probably half of those deaths could be prevented."

Knott's continues to be a family-owned operation. Bender grew up, as it were, on the farm. "All my life, 100 years!" she said with a laugh. And Bender worked on the farm. "When I was going to school, I worked summers and nights," she recalled. "I was a waitress in our little tea room. Then I began a little gift shop. Today it has about 85 employees."

Bender's husband, Paul, asked where he found his multicolored flower-embroidered cowboy shirt, answered, "Virginia's Gift Shop, of course." Terry O'Niel couldn't remember where he got his blue denim cowboy shirt, on the back of which Mickey and Minnie Mouse spoke Chinese.

Dan Nodes of Corona del Mar was already looking forward to another fund-raiser.

"The last two summers I've paddled a kayak from Catalina to Newport to raise money for the Trauma Society," Nodes said. "People pledged on a per-mile basis. This year, I'm convinced we need something more spectacular.

"The time has come to walk on water."

Nodes plans to make his miraculous crossing to Catalina on a product called Ski-Jak, which consists of two 12-foot pontoons, to be worn on either foot, and an oversize paddle. A trial lawyer who describes himself as "a frustrated jock," Nodes said the 30-mile, 10-hour trip will be undertaken at night, when the seas are calmest.

"It's similar to cross-country skiing," Nodes said. "The fellow I'm doing it with did it last year. (And) during the Liberty celebrations, he walked around New York Harbor on his Ski-Jaks. I'm out there walking around in Newport Harbor four nights a week."

Commented West: "We're inviting all the lawyers in Orange County to participate. We've already hired the sharks."

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