The Crowd: Let's Be Frank About Cancer event raises more than $700,000 for City of Hope

For people suffering from cancer, the City of Hope has been a literal lifesaver.

Frank Di Bella is one of those cancer survivors who found successful treatment at City of Hope when other medical professionals had offered a dim prognosis of his condition.


Di Bella has turned his gratitude into action, helping to raise money for the cancer treatment and research projects at City of Hope. For the past three years, a major Orange County-based fundraiser has been held at Balboa Bay Resort raising significant funds for cancer services.

Recently, the third annual Orange County gala billed as Let's Be Frank About Cancer attracted 400 black-tie guests donating more than $700,000 to City of Hope.

Di Bella and his committee honored pharmaceutical mogul Milan Panic, former Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, for his generosity.

Panic made a $1 million gift to the City of Hope above and beyond the amount raised at the gala, which will fund the Milan Panic Laboratory for Molecular Medicine.

The high-profile Orange County crowd also recognized the generosity of S. Paul Musco and his wife Marybelle Musco, major underwriters of the cancer fundraiser.

Di Bella's close friend and television co-host Jann Carl again served as the mistress of ceremonies for the evening.

Among the donors in the crowd were Bret Hardin, Michael and JoAnn Sweig, Ken and Cheri Ketner, Kristilyn Goff and John Postma, Mary Jo Hausman, Teri Hausman, George Argyros Jr., Wayne and Sherry Smith, and Chairman of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Dennis Kuhl.

City of Hope president and CEO Robert Stone welcomed the crowd offering special thanks to jewelry sponsor Twila True, donating an enormous opportunity drawing of jewelry valued between $40,000 and $80,000.

Guests were served a gourmet multi-course formal dinner prepared and served by Balboa Bay Resort staff, led by executive chef Rachel Haggstrom, followed by a performance by Matt Mauser and the Pete Jacobs Big Band. Tributes were paid to the City of Hope's Sumanta Kumar Pal.

Pal is also the co-director of the City of Hope Kidney Cancer Program, which saved the life of Di Bella.

One of the highlights of the Let's Be Frank About Cancer evening was the Las Vegas feeling created by the entertainment homage to the Sinatra era. The Pete Jacobs Band had the crowd dancing at high gear.

Also supporting the evening were Gary Jabara, Art Kazarian, Terra Gooch, Maria Cadigan, John Hook, Jonathan Curci, Dr. Harold and Dani Lancer, Donald and Lisa Pliner and Connie McKinney.

To learn more about the City of Hope please visit

Dinner For A Cause

The 11th annual culinary spectacular known as Table for 10 unfolded at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point, attracting more than 350 guests celebrating the most fabulous dinners in Orange County created by top chefs.

The concept involves inviting regional culinary kings to create a unique dining experience for guests in a large ballroom accommodating hundreds of people.

Each chef creates a unique table setting for his or her donors in what amounts to a competition between the chefs trying to outdo one another.

Donors are mesmerized by the creative array of décor as well as the tableside food preparation that creates a major buzz of excitement around the ballroom. All of the effort, and there is plenty of it, helps to raise money for two charities, Vocational Visions and The Teen Project.

Vocational Visions is an organization that supports developing the skills and talents of adults with disabilities creating pathways to employment. The Teen Project assists young people aging out of the foster care system with resources enabling them to transition into adulthood following career and educational goals.

The evening began with a cocktail reception hosted by legendary OC chef Pascal Olhats joining philanthropist Anne Manassero of Manassero Farms.

Chef Salvatore Giuliano of Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa joined with chef Adam Navidi from Oceans & Earth and Future Foods Farm serving as executives chefs of the evening.

Event chair Kristin Martin welcomed all of the chefs, including Jeff Platt, Colin Thornton, Rachel Haggstrom, Rachel Marie, Pascal Gimenez, Oscar Fonseca, Blake Mellgren, Tony Trujillo, David Shofner and Debra Sims. Also honored for their generosity were chefs Andy Arndt, Lindsay Smith-Rosales, Mark McDonald, Eric Mickle, Paul Buchanan and Ron Fougeray.

Michael Campbell of The Loft Restaurant at Montage Resort created an exceptional table, as did Kevin Meyer from Tanners at Paséa Hotel & Spa, David Martin of The Pacific Club, Chris Imbelli from The Ranch at Laguna Beach, and Chris Polley of True Food Kitchen.

Also front and center for Table for 10 were Stonehill Tavern's Alan Mardonovich, Michael Doctulero, Manfred Lassahn, Scott Raczek and Sara Guccione.

Special guests of the evening included The Teen Project founder Lauri Burns and Vocational Visions executive director Joan McKinney, and major sponsors of the evening Mike Danzi, Chairman and CEO of Legacy Pharmaceuticals International, and Ed Lee, co-founder of Wahoo's Fish Taco.

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.