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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : Charity Really Begins in the Winners Circle

October 26, 1994|KATHRYN BOLD

The hot topic of health care went from the boardroom to the ballroom Saturday when the Foundation of the South Coast Medical Center staged its 13th annual Winners Circle Charity Ball.

More than 200 guests paid $200 each to attend the black-tie dinner-dance at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dana Point. With the help of a live and silent auction, the gala netted about $50,000 for the nonprofit medical center in Laguna Beach.

Silk and Satin

"This is our traditional silk and satin gala," said Patricia Bates, ball chairwoman.

Ball organizers avoided glitz and gimmicks, preferring to impress guests with an understated, elegant decor and fine food. Tables were draped in white and set with blue-rimmed white china and blue goblets. Contemporary centerpieces of irises, roses and other blooms adorned each table.

After a cocktail reception, guests enjoyed a dinner of beef filet and ahi medallion that ended with a formal presentation of baked Alaska.

"This time I don't even have to be on a cruise to get baked Alaska," joked Peg Maynard, auction chairwoman.

Guests spent the rest of the evening dancing to the Sid James Orchestra.

Circle of Life

With more than 500 members, Winners Circle is the medical center's largest fund-raising support group.

"In these times of rising health-care prices, it's important to give the hospital support," Bates said.

Since its inception in 1982, Winners Circle has raised $1.5 million for the center. Founder Ray Cox started the group because he said he felt the hospital needed community support.

"We've grown from 15 members to almost 600, and more are coming in," he said.

South Coast Medical Center was the first hospital built in south Orange County, opening in 1959. Efforts to build a hospital in the area had started five years earlier, when a police officer was shot in front of Laguna Beach City Hall and died en route to the nearest hospital, 40 miles away.

Over the years, the Winners Circle has donated money to purchase state-of-the-art medical equipment and upgrade the hospital.

"I live across the street from the hospital, and I've had occasion to use it a few times," said Robert Burgess, chairman of the foundation board of trustees at the medical center. "It's well-run and well-respected."

Other supporters attending were John Dravinski, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, who accepted the Winners Circle Hall of Fame Award on behalf of the hotel for its support of the hospital; Carole Bowman, Winners Circle president, and husband Terry; E. Lynn and Diane Caswell, Raymond and Maggie Cox, Tom Mauro, Richard and Pamela Kempert, Mike and Jan Lowther, Mike Murray and Diane Wyzga, and Joe and Mary Orsak.

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