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Thoroughbred a Winner for MS : 'Carnival Exotique' and Auction Draw 304 Guests

September 03, 1987|PAMELA MARIN

So many choices, so little time.

You could get your palm read, your aura checked, your face painted or your caricature drawn at "Carnival Exotique," a benefit for the Orange County chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

You could win stuffed animals with a sure toss of beanbags, softballs or darts.

You could chat with Birdie the clown, Froggie the puppet or one of the amateur magicians.

And--most important--you could choose among a panoply of silent and live auction items on view poolside Sunday at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

The benefit attracted 304 guests and raised an estimated $75,000, according to Roni Babcock, executive director of the society's Orange County chapter. After the cocktail hour carnival, guests moved into two huge tents for a dinner of filet mignon and swordfish, dancing, and a live auction of items including furs, diamond jewelry and a 3-year-old thoroughbred filly donated by actor Jack Klugman.

Retired Army Col. R.L. Parker, a Huntington Beach resident and MS society board member, began arrangements for Klugman's equine donation two years ago.

"Early in '85, one of our board members mentioned that horses were getting to be popular items at auctions," Parker said. "So I called the California Thoroughbred Assn., and they recommended Klugman (who has a thoroughbred racing farm near Temecula). When I called Klugman's farm, the foreman told me all they had was a half dozen foals, but if I'd wait a couple years, they'd give us one."

"As you can see," Parker said, stroking the sleek neck of the filly as she munched the manicured turf outside the Westin, "I kept 'em to their word."

The horse, Darling Jaklin, was purchased with a $2,000 bid by Newport Beach real estate agent Larry O'Rourke.

Among guests, who paid $125 each to attend, were Rams quarterback Steve Dils, a member of the board of trustees, and teammates Jackie Slater and Doug Smith.

Dils' Quick Release

At one of the carnival booths, Dils showed off his "quick release" throw by knocking over soda pop cans with beanbags--and took some ribbing from friends.

On a serious note, Dils said he had become involved with the MS Society two years ago when a close friend married the daughter of Dick and Marilyn Hausman. Dick Hausman, who was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis 25 years ago, is chairman emeritus of the chapter.

"My whole life has been centered around doing physical things," Dils said. "It's very difficult for me to imagine not being able to move around, being confined to a wheelchair. I know that would be devastating."

Claire McNair, vice chair of the board and co-chair of the benefit, was diagnosed as having MS in 1984--six years after she joined the board.

"If I had to get MS, how lucky I was to have gotten on this board first and to have fallen in love with all of these wonderful people," McNair said. She added that she was particularly lucky to have become friends with Dr. Stanley van den Noort, board chairman of the Orange County MS Society chapter and a UC Irvine professor of neurology.

"Stan lets me be as active as I want," said McNair. Although she attended the gala in a wheelchair, she noted, "at home I walk with a cane. I am not completely wheelchair-bound."

A Message About MS

"When you have this disease, people think you lose your mind," McNair said. "I guess it's because you look handicapped, and I guess that's one of the reason I try to get around as much as I can (without a wheelchair). People see you like this, and they think your intelligence is gone. Well, it isn't. That's one of the messages we need to get out about MS."

Van den Noort said multiple sclerosis, a disease affecting the central nervous system, is "the most common disabling disease in young adults." There are an estimated 25,000 MS patients in Orange County alone, he said, adding that medical science has yet to find a cure.

"There has been enormous progress in research, but it hasn't yet translated into safe, effective treatment which stops the disease," he said.

To illustrate the lag between scientific research and popular application, van den Noort mentioned Robert Hutchings Goddard, the widely acknowledged father of modern rocketry. "Goddard was firing off rockets in the '30s," he said, "but we didn't get to the moon until 1967."

Also attending the carnival and auction were chapter vice chair Robert Guggenheim (who, along with van den Noort, was one of the more distinguished guests sporting hand-painted flowers and other decorations on his visage); board members Tom Crosson, Tom Berndt and Zee Allred; and guests Peggy Wright and Leslie Wilson.

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