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Revelers With a Cause Raise Cash for Free Medical Clinic in Orange : $90,000 Will Go to Lestonnac Center

May 10, 1990|PAMELA MARIN | Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

"Loosen your ties, loosen your panty hose--loosen whatever you have to loosen," Melissa Manchester told the crowd in the Disneyland Hotel ballroom.

The black-tie audience looked like statuary as the pop singer lit into her next song--the only unbound, unfettered, busted-out thing about them was all the loose cash they'd dropped to be there.

Three hundred bucks per couple, more for the better seats.

So they didn't shake their ball gowns or boogie in their cummerbunds. No sweat. They were there for other reasons.

The 530 guests at Saturday's "Mardi Gras Celebration" dinner and concert came to support the Lestonnac Free Medical Clinic in Orange, a nonprofit agency that provides medical and dental care to the county's poor.

The benefit raised $90,000, according to Allen Boerner, who co-chaired the fund-raiser with his wife, Susan. The money will help pay off the clinic's mortgage, he said.

For the somewhat late celebration of Fat Tuesday, Susan Boerner and others on the party committee dressed the ballroom in columns of brightly colored balloons.

"People keep telling me I match the balloons," said Boerner, who wore a flashy silk gown. "I've been so locked into thinking about the color schemes (for the party) I just subconsciously bought a dress to match."

With her punky short haircut and jeweled shoulder-length earrings, Boerner looked like a pop maven herself. She and her husband, who donated $25,000 to underwrite Manchester's appearance, dined front and center with the clinic's founder, Sister Marie Therese, and friends Brenda and James Dobell, Deede and Mike Ferman and Sheila and Jim Coleman.

Also seated at one of the dance floor tables was Doug Daigle, who in December raised more than $100,000 for the clinic with a headline-grabbing stunt of hovering a helicopter over the parking lot of Anaheim Stadium for more than two days.

"One of those things you do once ," he said with a laugh. Daigle sat with Jill and Orville Hatfield, Jessica and Harlow Richardson, Elsa and Pete Wenger and Damon Bennett, the newest member of the Rotorheads, a clinic support group whose members are helicopter pilots.

Pat Lamb, president of the clinic's board of directors, said Lestonnac served about 5,000 patients last year and will probably serve at least a thousand more in 1990. She said the doctors and nurses donate their time, and many reach into their own pockets to help pay for medication for patients, many of whom are homeless.

"Every year when we make our budget, we keep our fingers crossed," Lamb said. "All of our money comes from grants, foundations and private donations--we don't get one dollar from the government. So this is an important night for us."

Before Manchester and her six-man band took the stage for an hourlong set, guests bid on silent auction items and ate a dinner of sorrel bisque and veal medallions. Allen Boerner introduced the 80-year-old Sister Marie Therese, who was greeted at the podium with a standing ovation.

"When I first started my work, I never thought of having anything as big as this," she told the crowd. "My only thought was to serve the poor. . . . You have come not only to eat dinner and enjoy yourselves. There was a greater purpose in your minds. You are people . . . who are anxious, in your own, small way, to help the poor. Your presence supports my work."

Also attending were Kay and Herbert Hafif, whose $150,000 donation to the clinic was announced at the Mardi Gras party; Margaret and Carl Karcher; Theresa and Stan Pawlowski; Millie and Charles Kovac; Olivia and Ben Mascardo; Pamela and Randy Poag; Rosalie Corless and the Rev. Robert H. Schuller.

Bluegrass Rooters: Derby Day--like Mardi Gras and every other quasi-holiday--spawns annual parties. On Saturday afternoon, while Unbridled unburdened Churchill Downs of its 116th blanket of roses, two local benefits used the race motif to raise money.

At Remick's restaurant in Irvine, 250 guests gathered to watch taped races and the Derby and eat a Southern feast of ham and turkey, cheese grits and biscuits, pecan and sweet potato pies.

The $75-per-person event raised $60,000 for Court Appointed Special Advocates, a nonprofit organization of trained volunteers who represent abused and neglected children in court.

While waiters circulated with trays of mint juleps, mimosas and champagne, guests in stylish silk dresses and summer suits browsed silent auction tables and placed bets on the races, which were broadcast on TV screens throughout the restaurant.

Among those gathered at tables decorated with riding crops and jockey caps were Sherron and Richard Paul of Newport Beach, the top bidders for a ride in the Goodyear blimp (giddyap!).

Also attending the third annual CASA fund-raiser were Linda and Fred Port, Anita and Tim Swift, Susan and Dennis Leibel, Linda and Gary Pack, Barbara and Stanley Sanderson, Linda and David Travis and Tina and Michael Hughes.

At the Balboa Bay Club, the Orangewood Children's Foundation hosted its annual "Run for the Children" party, drawing 300 guests at $50 each and raising an estimated $30,000. The proceeds will be used for building expansion at Orangewood Children's Home, the county's emergency shelter for abandoned, abused and neglected children.

Guests watched taped races and the Derby on four large screens set on the perimeter of the main dining room, and sat at tables near the outdoor pool (the domain of three large papier-mache swans decorated with white orchids and pink roses).

Mixing in with patrons in breezy turf club attire were Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler dress-alikes, as well as the odd guest in jockey costume.

Buffet offerings included "Miss Scarlett Special Salad," "Confederate Biscuits," "Beaumont's Inn Famous Fried Chicken" and "Apple and Cherry Cobbler Tara-Style."

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