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June 16, 2002|Patt Diroll, Ann Conway

Big Fish, Go Fish

There was Go Fish, Ping-Pong Pop, Rubber-Ducky Dash and stars everywhere on the rolling lawns of Ken Roberts' 112-acre Mandeville Canyon estate last Sunday, but this was no ordinary charity carnival: Target a Time for Heroes raised nearly $2 million for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Delivered by an armada of shuttle buses, the more than 2,000 guests (adults $1,000, kids $250) started arriving before noon to hear stories read by Tom Cruise ("Where the Wild Things Are"), Patrick Stewart and Anjelica Huston, among others; try their luck at game booths operated by the likes of Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson, Jennifer Connelly, Lisa Kudrow and David Copperfield; and get tips from pro athletes, including skateboarder Tony Hawk and figure skater Scott Hamilton.

Kids big and little wove their way through the grounds, from the Hollywood makeover station to the "Survivor Hut." For armchair athletes, there was a temporary-tattoo parlor (the Lakers' logo was a hot item); photo ops with the stars and specialties prepared by chefs from 26 premium eateries. No Slurpees, popcorn or cotton candy here. The bill o' fare was strictly L.A. groove: quesadillas, fresh seafood, designer salads, gourmet pizzas and mega-calorie desserts.

The carnival, which was underwritten by Target, drew on the labor of 200-plus volunteers. A number of HIV-positive youngsters from Camp Heartland in Malibu and their families were guests at the event.

It's been 14 years since the foundation was started by three moms, Susan DeLaurentis, Susie Zeegen and Glaser, who died from AIDS in 1994. It now has 150 sites worldwide that focus on the prevention and treatment of life-threatening childhood illnesses. "Around the world, 800,000 children are infected with HIV every year," said Kate Carr, CEO of the foundation. "The problem is ready to explode in India and Russia. Sadly, there are still 200 new cases every year in the United States and that number is not decreasing. We need to spread the prevention message."

Echoing that plea were AIDS activist Florence Ngobeni of Johannesburg, South Africa; and Dr. David Kessler, dean of Yale School of Medicine and former FDA commissioner, who chairs the foundation board. "We now have the drugs to prevent the transmission of HIV from a mother to a child," Kessler said. "For a few dollars, we can give a drug to a newborn and prevent HIV, but the challenge is the lack of infrastructure in the developing countries to deliver the drugs. That's why we cannot rest until pediatric AIDS is eradicated."

Patt Diroll

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Icon Awards

Two individuals who characterize the mantra of the UCLA Center on Aging, "Live Better Longer," were honored at the center's annual gala: Hugh Downs, former anchor of ABC's "20/20," and philanthropist Robert Ahmanson received the 2002 Icon Award.

Downs, an Emmy Award winner and author of nine books, has had a broadcasting career spanning more than 60 years. Ahmanson, who heads the Ahmanson Foundation, is a dedicated UCLA alumnus and benefactor. Before approaching the mike to accept the award from past Icon awardee, Art Linkletter, Ahmanson got some unsolicited advice. "Don't try to be funny. You're not a comedian," warned a friend, humorist Stan Freberg. With typical modesty, Ahmanson took heed and kept it brief. "I'm told I was supposed to be on from 9:04 to 9:07, It's now 9:20. So thank you very much," he said, and exited. It brought down the house.

Downs, who teaches at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University, received his award from his grandson, Cameron Black, an MBA candidate at ASU. "In a curious role reversal, Cameron is now my mentor," Downs said. "He has been a potent force in helping me to avoid backwatering myself into some stagnant channel of accumulated years."

Timothy J. Noonan chaired the black-tie event June 8 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, which raised $355,000.

Among those in the crowd of more than 450 were UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale and his wife, Robin; Gigi and Gary Small; Mimi Perloff; Barbara and Hugh Smith; Roberta Haft; Mickey and Joe Wapner; Nanette Fabray; Shelley Fabares; Bronya and Andrew Galef; and Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer.

P.D.

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Power Play

Beholding rare Chinese artifacts such as a 2,000-year-old jade burial shroud, supporters of the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana previewed its new exhibit, "Symbols of Power: Masterpieces from the Nanjing Museum," at a gala benefit that raised $250,000.

About 350 guests enjoyed a champagne reception in the museum lobby before touring the exhibit, which runs until next spring. It features 250 objects, including 50 gilt buddhas from the Forbidden City, an edict from a Chinese emperor inscribed upon a solid gold tablet, ancient currency, fine porcelain, religious objects and an emperor's silk robe.

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