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ORANGE COUNTY PEOPLE: ACHIEVEMENTS AND CELEBRATIONS
| ANN CONWAY

It's All in the Game

Community Leaders Play 'Monopoly' and Pay Tribute to Activists at the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Gala

March 02, 2000|ANN CONWAY

Pay $150. Pass "Go." Sample gourmet fare and watch community leaders play a version of one of America's most beloved board games.

It all happened at the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation of Orange County's annual Monopoly gala at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Tennis Club.

Hundreds of supporters--many of them diabetics--dined on rack of veal and watched Frank Doti challenge foundation president Christopher Carlton in a bigger-than-life game of Monopoly. The winner: Doti, a law professor at Chapman University in Orange.

"It was fixed," Doti confessed, smiling.

Well, of course. Two weeks ago Doti took first place in a $2,500-per-ticket Monopoly tourney staged by the foundation at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.

The winner of that contest was designated by the foundation to be the champion--and part of the entertainment--at Saturday night's black-tie gala.

"I qualified to be the shoo-in tonight," said Doti, whose grand prize was a 4-pound box of chocolates.

His game strategy: "Buy a lot of property and build houses as fast as you can," said Doti, brother of Chapman University President Jim Doti. "It's one of my favorite games--I played it a lot as a kid."

Also on the program: a salute to community activists Andrew and Olivia Johnson of North Tustin.

Andrew Johnson, 60, has been treated for diabetes for 25 years. The chronic disease--characterized by the body's inability to produce insulin--is the leading cause of kidney failure, adult blindness and non-traumatic amputations.

"I've been very lucky," Andrew Johnson said. "My eyes are fine. My kidneys are fine. My feet still have feeling.

"But my health could change at any moment," he added. "I have very little control over that. I can keep my blood sugar where it belongs to the best of my ability and I could still go blind tomorrow."

Gala chairwoman Joann Leatherby, 45, was diagnosed with diabetes at age 34.

Leatherby is also one of the lucky ones. "I have had no problems in 23 years--but some people can have kidney failure after only five years of being diagnosed," she said.

To regulate her body's supply of insulin, Leatherby wears a pump concealed under her clothing. "It's attached to my waist," said Leatherby, who wore a glittering knit suit to the affair. "It has a catheter that's hooked up to my skin. I get insulin constantly, all through the day."

Net proceeds of about $80,000 from the gala will be used to conduct research at medical facilities designated by the New York chapter of the foundation.

"Every dollar we raise goes to the best diabetes research in the world," said Anne Grey, executive director of the foundation's Orange County chapter.

Observed Leatherby: "The foundation has mapped out what it's going to take to find a cure, and it all boils down to money."

Gala committee members also included Mike Hagan, Linda Gomberg, Ron Thronson and Charles Dreyer.

For chapter information: (949) 553-0363

Chinese New Year Celebration

Members of the Pacific Symphony's Chinese-American League hailed the Year of the Dragon during formal festivities at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa.

Guests enjoyed a performance by Chinese opera artists Zhang Guan Zheng, Liu Zhi Wei and Lu Yi Ping after they dined on gourmet fare at tables topped with bamboo and torch ginger, courtesy Tiffany & Co.

"Happy New Year!" league president Ruby Au told guests on Saturday. "It's an honor to welcome each of you to our eighth annual New Year celebration."

The league was founded in 1992 by orchestra supporters Arlene and George Cheng of Newport Beach.

Proceeds from the event will go toward underwriting the league's Showcase for Young Musicians--a statewide competition for music students between the ages of 10 and 24--June 4 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. The winners receive an honorarium and an opportunity to perform with the orchestra.

"The league and showcase are very important to us," orchestra board chairman Doug Freeman told the crowd.

"You make it all happen," he added. "To be here is really important, but to go to the showcase and watch those kids is really fun. That's what tonight is all about."

Arlene Cheng, Verna Chow and Angela Hsu chaired the event. On the committee: Au, Nike Cheng, Polly Ho, Louise Hsieh, Gail Hsu, Terry Huang, Vanessa Joe, Lisa Kuan, Ching Yu Kuo, Yuan-Mei Kuo and Cathy Kwan.

Others were Robert Lee, Helen Lin, Ellen Ong, Mimi Peng, Danni Sun, Margaret Tan, Linda Tay, Laiping Tsang, Caleb Zia and Nancy Zia.

For league or showcase information: (714) 755-5788.

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Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at ann.conway@latimes.com.

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