A pair of sphinxes, a feast to please a Pharaoh and treasures worthy of Tut's tomb helped turn the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation's 12th annual Bid for Kids gala into "A Journey Down the Nile."
The Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa served as a giant pyramid where more than 500 guests gathered Saturday for the Egyptian-themed dinner and auction. The $150-per-person gala netted about $160,000 for the Pediatric Cancer Research Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Orange County.
"We wanted an Egyptian theme because it was different from anything we'd ever done," said Erin Wagner, event co-chairwoman.
Party planners used movie props, including a towering gold sarcophagus, and murals created for Laguna Hills High School's Egyptian-themed grad night to transform the hotel lobby and ballroom into ancient Egypt.
Marti Dickey was queen of the Nile, dressed head to toe in a Cleopatra costume to show off a diamond bracelet and other jewelry up for auction.
"I love dressing up for this event," she said.
Guests wandered inside a tomb of "King Tut's Treasures" and bid on hundreds of silent auction items, from an "X-Files" gift basket to an autographed copy of Colin Powell's "My American Journal."
Bigger prizes were sold at the live auction, including a private party at Disneyland's exclusive Club 33 and a catered dinner for 20 by the Turnip Rose that went for $4,600. Several last-minute items were donated by Rod Carew of the California Angels, whose daughter Michelle has leukemia. Among his donations: a day of batting practice with Carew himself.
Night Falls on the Nile
The ballroom was decorated in a blue and gold, stars and moon motif dominated by a massive gilded Sun King that looked down on party-goers from the stage.
"It's kind of celestial," said Debra Murphy, event co-chairwoman.
Candles floating in blue oil adorned every table, and blue votives shaped liked stars and moons stood at each place setting--table favors for guests. Dinner, dubbed "Pharaoh's Repast," featured beef filet with Egyptian spicy crust and a pyramid-shaped chocolate almond cake.
Proceeds from the gala are used exclusively for pediatric cancer research at CHOC in Orange. Dr. Mitchell Cairo, director of cancer research and bone marrow transplantation at CHOC, updated guests on his research and progress made against pediatric cancer.
Since PCRF was founded in 1982, the survival rate for children with cancer has increased to 70% from about 30% to 40%, according to Cairo.
"We're hoping by the year 2000 to cure 85% of children with cancer," Cairo said.
Susan Reid, executive director of the foundation, said research programs at CHOC help all children.
"Dr. Cairo is getting papers published nationally and internationally, so not only children in Orange County are benefiting," Reid said.
Among the party-goers were: Jeff Dankberg, foundation president, and his wife, Bonnie; Carey Iler, honorary chairman, and his wife, B.J.; Cary and Michelle Sarnoff; Don and Kathi Roberson; Doug and Karen Murphy; Catherine Clark; Kim Smith; David and Loren Parker; Leonard and Susie Buchan; Michael and Karen Packer; Larry and Maggie Socea, and Jim Weisenbach.