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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY

Diamond Engages Interested Party

A Jewel of an Evening to Remember makes a lasting impression as a benefit for the Alzheimer's Assn.

July 16, 1996|ANN CONWAY

About 250 people streamed into the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach on Saturday to attend a Jewel of an Evening to Remember, a benefit for the Alzheimer's Assn. of Orange County.

Guests bid on silent auction items during a cocktail reception, enjoyed a sit-down repast of potato-crusted halibut and danced to the music of the Sam Conti Orchestra. Proceeds estimated at $69,000 will help fund the association's support group for early-stage Alzheimer's patients.

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Champagne Sparkler

Highlighting the reception was the opportunity for guests to buy a $20 chance on a one-carat diamond valued at $5,000.

Encased in a tiny plastic pouch, the diamond sat in one of 200 champagne flutes arrayed on a reception table. Fakes were in the other 199 glasses. Which was which? Guests had fun examining the stones for quality and color.

"I'm buying three chances--one for my nanny, one for my husband and one for me," said event co-chairwoman Jacqueline DuPont (who stepped in to help for Betty Belden-Palmer, who is recuperating from surgery).

It was DuPont and her committee who came up with the idea for the diamond-in-a-glass raffle. "It just came to us," she said. "We thought it went perfectly with our theme--a jewel of an evening."

Winner of the sparkler was gala decorations chairwoman Susan Vocke of Costa Mesa, who bought five chances. "She screamed like crazy when she heard her name called," said Linda Scheck, associate director of the Alzheimer's Assn.

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Caring and Sharing

DuPont, a gerontologist, watched her beloved grandfather die of Alzheimer's, a dementing illness that robs patients of their memories.

"He was a wonderful, hard-working man," she said, "but all of the money in the world couldn't give him his brain back.

"It is awful to think that older Americans have fought for their country and raised their children only to lose their memories," she said.

Scheck was pleased that someone as young as DuPont, 29, (a mother of two) would support the association.

"She represents Generation X," Scheck observed, "and has brought people here who, through their parents or grandparents, have a connection with Alzheimer's disease."

Also attending the gala was Elizabeth Long Palmer, the association's new executive director. "I've been at the association for two months, and I've never seen such passion," said Palmer, whose mother died of Alzheimer's disease. "The association staff and board are people passionate about what they're doing."

Guests also included gala emcee Geoff Edwards; actor Chad Everett with his wife, Shelby; Ray and Gloria Osbrink (gala co-chairwoman); Robert Rosenberg (donor of the diamond); Cindy Davis (daughter of Betty Belden-Palmer) with her husband, Ron Davis; Claire and Maclay Burt; and Paul and Lisa Belden.

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