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A Boost to Wishful Thinking

October 26, 1989|PAMELA MARIN | Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

The line everyone used had to do with "going out of business."

As in, "Maybe next year we'll have a going-out-of-business party."

Even, "We're just about out of business now."

However unrealistic those boasts--plenty, according to one informed guest--it was understandably wishful thinking for members of the Cystic Fibrosis Guild of Orange County, who tossed their seventh annual "Investors' Ball" Saturday at the Newport Beach Marriott.

This year, after decades of study, scientists isolated and cloned the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. The discovery represents the first step in finding a cure for a genetic defect that causes respiratory and digestive problems for an estimated 30,000 infants and youngsters, many of whom do not survive childhood.

"Scientifically, the pace is going to quicken," said Rich Mattingly, a vice president of the national Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Mattingly, who flew in for the weekend from foundation headquarters in Bethesda, Md., was among 50 VIPs at a pre-gala get-together in one of the hotel suites. He cautioned that the research road ahead was a long one. "But obviously this is a very exciting time for us," he said.

The gala drew 370 guests at $175 each and 30 "patrons" at $250 a pop, raising an estimated $165,000 according to Sue Hook, who co-chaired the event with Eva Mann. (Mattingly described the local guild as "a pacesetter in our foundation," which has 56 chapters throughout the country.)

Patrons, sponsors and event committee members were invited to what turned out to be a stiflingly small suite for a glass of bubbly before adjourning for cocktails and silent auction bidding downstairs.

Among VIPS were Mike and Cindy Parker, recipients of the guild's "Breath of Life" award during a dinner presentation; Barbi Sinasek and fiance Fred Tesch, who met when one of Sinasek's friends "bought" Tesch for her at last year's cystic fibrosis bachelor bid benefit; Pat Hitchcock O'Connell (daughter of the famed director); Roy and Cee Rubens; Rene and Anna Vega; Richard and Kathryn Agnew, and Barry and Pati Gump.

The silent auction and dining rooms were decorated in pink and silver and inscribed with this year's theme "The Magic" (written in ice blocks at the appetizer buffet, adorning the curtain behind the bandstand and part of each centerpiece).

"You know what I love about this?" asked co-chairwoman Hook. "When we came up with the theme, we interpreted it to mean the magic seen through the eyes of children. Whimsical, you know?

"Then they discovered the gene, and it just tied this whole thing together," she said. "The magic now is that we're on the way to finding a cure."

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