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RSVP / ORANGE COUNTY : Turning Up the Heat for the MDA : A Hot, Pre-Telethon Dinner and Auction Make a $50,000 Tropical Impression

August 08, 1995|KATHRYN BOLD

Organizers of the 1995 Muscular Dystrophy Assn. Pre-Telethon Celebration proved they could predict the weather when they chose "Tropical Heat Wave" as their gala theme.

The dinner took place Saturday, in the middle of Southern California's long-running heat wave. More than 300 party-goers at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa dressed in cool evening wear.

Sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. of Orange County and ERA Sterling Real Estate, the $95-per-person dinner and auction was

expected to net about $50,000 for the MDA.

Tropical Oasis

"We chose the [heat wave] theme when we were preparing the decorations for last year's gala, and it just so happens that now we're having one," said Pat Shipley, event chairwoman, who attended with husband Jim.

Once they escaped the heat and entered the hotel, guests found themselves in a tropical oasis. Neon palm trees were

set up throughout the salon, where guests wandered among tables well-stocked with gift baskets for the silent auction.

Women in Carmen Miranda costumes, complete with fruit headdresses, strolled along selling raffle tickets to party-goers. Colorful tropical birds from Ford's Feathers of Torrance squawked in a corner of the room.

Inside the ballroom, tables were decorated with tall cherub urns filled with tropical fruits and flowers.

For dinner, guests enjoyed salad with mandarin oranges and red onion, followed by beef filet with mustard sage sauce. Waiters in colored sashes and ruffled sleeves made a conga line through the party to serve the dessert--mango mousse in a macadamia nut basket topped with fresh fruit.

Two of Jerry's Kids

Like many guests, Mark and JoAnn Brown and their sons, Jeffrey and Scott, have personal reasons for supporting the MDA. Jeffrey, 10, and Scott, 8, have muscular dystrophy; this year Jeff attended the gala in a wheelchair.

"When we found out the boys had muscular dystrophy, we dedicated our lives to the MDA," said JoAnn Brown, gala committee member.

Last year Greg and Elaine Schaad, close friends of the Browns, discovered their 5-year-old son Steven also has a degenerative muscle disease.

"He was having [developmental] trouble, and JoAnn told me to get him tested. She knew that's what Steven had. It's the worst thing you could think of for children," said Elaine Schaad. The MDA provides patient care and supports research into the causes and cures of 40 neuromuscular diseases.

"MDA has done so much for us--they've paid for Steven's testing and muscle biopsy," Schaad said.

The dinner included a surprise salute to Marlene Schell, gala committee member, for her support of MDA and other charities.

Other faces in the crowd were Russ Kidder, auctioneer; Gordon Jump, emcee, and his wife, Betty; Bruce Brosky; Jenny Buettner; Frank DiBella; Doris Harmon; Robert Fontanilla; Aldo Luongo; Sheila Mazzeo; Kim Trigon-Cosenza, and Reene Van Matre.

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