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| O.C. Benefits

Honoring Those Who Help Children in Need

March 08, 2001|PAMELA DIAMOND

The event: The annual Celebration of Children benefiting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Orange County. The black-tie dinner-dance, held Saturday at the Sutton Place Hotel in Newport Beach, honored Richard Gadbois III as Children's Champion for his support of CASA. Carol Bradley was chosen Advocate of the Year and Nat Glover, an Orange County deputy district attorney, Judicial Honoree. The event was chaired by Fred Port, Lucie Moore and Chris Massey.

Caring hearts: Established in 1985, CASA of Orange County provides advocacy services for abused, abandoned and neglected children. Advocates are trained volunteers appointed by Juvenile Court, who spend at least three hours weekly in a one-on-one relationship with a dependent child.

Gala scene: Spring bouquets of lipstick-red tulips and golden daffodils graced tables in the hotel's ballroom, where more than 380 guests gathered for a four-course dinner, travel auction and dancing to the Wayne Foster band.

Empowering kids: After the awards presentation, children's advocate Kristi Schmitt shared stories from the challenging and rewarding journey she has made with her CASA charge, Carlos, 19, who was abandoned at the age of 3. "He has a job, he knows the difference between right and wrong and he knows what a family is," she said.

Quote: "While I'm flattered to be honored, the real heroes are the people who are helping these kids," said Gadbois, a senior vice president with Merrill Lynch.

Bottom line: Net proceeds of $375,000 will be used to help fund recruitment and training of CASA advocates and supervisors. There are 280 CASA advocates in Orange County, and more than 230 children are on a waiting list.

Information: (714) 663-9034.

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