Down in Houston, up on Madison Avenue, and way out in LaLa Land

Down in Houston at River Oaks Country Club, THE CENTER Guild benefiting THE CENTER Serving Persons with Mental Retardation hosted their 5th annual luncheon with the theme of “Reaching New Peaks,” with guest speaker Aron Ralston, author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place.  Ralston's autobiographical book chronicles his survival following the amputation of his own arm after being pinned by an 800-pound boulder during a hike in Blue John Canyon in Utah.

Lisa Holthouse

The luncheon raised over $160,000, which will benefit The Center’s programs and services and The Caroline School. Chairs were Dena Prasher and Tana Wood.

THE CENTER Serving Persons with Mental Retardation, formerly The Center for the Retarded, was founded by a group of concerned parents in 1950.  THE CENTER is a private non-profit agency that provides opportunities that promote individual choice, personal growth and community involvement for persons with mental retardation and those needing similar services so that they may achieve their maximum potential.

The Center, 3550 West Dallas, serves nearly 700 people ranging in age from 6 months to 78 years. In addition to its three residential communities, it also offers prevocational training, supported employment, an adult activity center, a senior's program, respite care and The Caroline School.

Dena Prasher, Kathryn Smith, and Tana Wood
Karen Pulaski and Carla Valencia
Bob Devlin
Cynthia Petrello
Larry Bruce and Sylvia Forsyth
Dena Prasher, Aron Ralston, and Tana Wood
Lisa Swalm Frantz
Kathryn Smith and Stef Levy
Melissa Mithoff

Greggory Burk

Millette Sherman
Kim Moody and Ann Carl
Jeff Smith and his mother, Glenna Smith
Nancy Randall
Maria Bush and Debbie Festari
Stromy Hull and Kimberly DeLape
Karen Pulaski, Carla Valencia

In New York even the wee ones are getting into philanthropy and gala benefits with The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Kids Kick in Committee, made up of children of members of the Associates and board of The Society of MSKCC and their friends. They are picking some good habits from their parents and want to help others who are less fortunate. Starting close to home, the focus is on the children who are being treated at the Center’s Pediatric Department. Last year they inaugurated their “Every Penny Counts” campaign at the 2005 Bunny Hop and it was a rousing success. "Children helping other children" is the idea.

Next Tuesday, March 7th, the Kids are going to do it again at FAO Schwarz for their 15th annual Bunny Hop.

Alexandra and Tatiana Mandis

Meanwhile there was a kick-off party for the Committee in the toy company’s ice cream parlor to discuss strategies over sundaes, malts and giant root beer floats. It was an ice cream social and they asked their brothers and sisters and their moms to come by for the sweet fun.

Ophelia Snyder brought the meeting to order with a welcome to old and new members. Wick Waller announced the success of last year’s drive. “We raised $1,200 and this year we hope to beat that,” he said. Next, Harrison Grauso spoke. “We also raised $1, 250 from lemonade stands and bake sales during the summer and during the school year, the money we raise will be used to rent tuxedos for the Pediatric Prom. We will also use the money to dry clean the dresses that we get for the prom through our letter writing campaign,” he said. Pretty Millicent Waller was the last speaker. In a rousing and rallying voice she said, “We would like to thank Polo for our Ice Cream Sundays and our new hats!” With that, all the kids put on their little navy blue signature Polo caps provided by the Bunny Hop sponsor Ralph Lauren Childrenswear. Leading the applause were Lowell and Jenifer Creel, Henri and Alexia Fernandez,Anne Grauso (mother of Harrision), Colt Waller (brother of Wick and Millicent), Jack Colgate, Tatiana Mandis, Ty York, Annabelle, James and Mary Darling, Calypso, CeCe and Celeste Boele, Allie, Charlotte and Kelly DeMarco, Coco and Mimi Hill, Lavinia Snyder (mother of Ophelia) and Barbara and Madeline McLaughlin.

The event, which has become the gold standard of children’s fundraisers was the 1992 brainstorm of Joanne de Guardiola, who was the Associates’ Chairman at the time, “We expected 250 at the party and 950 came,” she said. The Society, which itself is celebrating its 60th anniversary, knew they had a winner. Chairmen over the next 13 years have included: Alexis Waller (the current Associate’s Chair), Tory Burch, Hilary Dick, Helen Schifter, Nina Tower, Courtney Arnot, Mary Rockefeller, Anne Johnson, Martha Glass, Tav Berry, Ashley McDermott, Stephanie Griswold, Leslie Heaney, Leslie Coleman, Barbara Tollis, Lisa McCarthy and Nancy Dressler. Honorary Chairs have included Nan Kempner, Sigourney Weaver, Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook.

Alexia Fernandez and Alexis Waller
Mary and Anabelle Darling
Barbara and Madeline McLaughlin
Next Tuesday’s event, with the help of Morgan Stanley, Mrs. John Byrne and of course the big sponsor Ralph Lauren Childrenswear, promises to be better than ever. FAO will be generously festooned with flowers by DeJuan Stroud. There will be entertainment from Magic Al, Radio City Rockettes, Swarovski Tattoos, Mikey Mike, Mad Hatters, Madeline, Mutts, Kevin Kruger Party Kidz, Stinkie Pinkie, Apryl & Crystal Cadabra, Winnie-the- Pooh, Noo-noo from Teletubbies, Peter Rabbitand more. There will be a NYC Photobooth set up and stations of cookie decorating, candy necklace making, story telling and of course, shopping everywhere. And food: Fresh Popped Pop Corn, Rainbow Cotton Candy Sabrett Hot Dogs, Three Cheese Macaroni & Cheese, Cheese Burger Squares, Organic Chicken Breast Tenders and Fresh Baked French Bread Pizza. And desserts: Fresh Baked Mini Cookies, Blondies, Fudge Brownies, Pecan Squares, Lemon Bar Triangles and Nostalgic Candy.
For the adults, there will be passed hors d’oeuvres and 15 really great silent auction packages, which include a trip to the Ritz South Beach, The Four Seasons in Costa Rica and The Westin in Paris, as well as items from Tory Burch, The Carlyle Hotel, Cartier, Coach and Oscar de la Renta.

Each guest will go home with one of the famous Bunny Hop gift bags, this year provided by Polo. And best of all, the proceeds will go to fulfill the 59 Society Associates Committee members’ pledge to raise funds for the Pediatric Education Programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. There are tickets available: Adults are $125 and Children are $50 — call (212) 639-2103.

See you on the Bunny Trail.
Millicent, Alexis and Colt Waller
Jack and Katie Colgate
Ty York, Anne and Harrison Garuso, Henri Fernandez, and Wilck Waller
Ophelia and Lavinia Snyder
Alexia Fernandez, Calypso, and Celeste and CeCe Boele
Kelly DeMarco, Allie DeMarco, Millicent Waller, and Charlotte DeMarco
Lowell and Jennifer Creel
James Darling
Allie DeMarco
“Kids Kick In” committee
Millicent Waller
Charlotte DeMarco
Calypso Boele
L. to r.: Ty York; FAO Schwarz soldier, Alexandra Mandis, Alexis Waller, Katie Colgate, and the FAO Schwarz Princess.

Way out West in Hollywood getting ready for the Oscars, at the luxurious L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills, Revlon partnered with J. Mendel and Graff to create a luxurious, exclusive Suite.  It was held Monday-Wednesday at the Hotel. They’re booking private appointments only for celebrities, stylists, and socialites. Revlon has had celebrity makeup artist on hand to demonstrate red carpet looks and to share insider tips and trends that we will see on the stars. They also displayed Good Luck notes to Best Actress nominees that were handwritten by the nominees’ friends, family and co-stars.  The notes will be presented to the celebrities in a crocodile clutch in a color of their choice.  

Last Tuesday night Revlon hosted a private dinner at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills with special guests Gilles Mendel and Henri Barguirdjian. Among those in the upstairs party room were Kathy Hilton, Lisa Rinna,

Kelly Ripa, Barbara Davis, Tamara Mellon, Faith Ford and Finola Hughes.  One lucky guest writer Merle Ginsberg won a pair of Graff diamond earrings worth $10,000!  Celebrities and socialites spotted at the Revlon Suite: Mariah Carey, Marissa Tomei, Melissa George, Rose McGowen, Jamie Tisch, Daisy Fuentes.  J. Mendel showcased their Spring 2006 collection and Graff had on display more than $200 million in spectacular diamonds.

The suite at L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills with Revlon, J. Mendel, and Graff on display

Photographs by Cutty McGill (Bunny Hop); Getty Images (L'Ermitage).


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/