Razzle-Dazzle Raises $160,000

Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

Same number of guests, twice as much money.

That was the good news and the bottom line at a benefit for St. Joseph Hospital at the Anaheim Hilton Saturday.

The Orange hospital drew 950 friends and supporters at a hefty $250-per for cocktails, dinner and a razzle-dazzle stage show by entertainer Ben Vereen.

Net proceeds: $160,000--exactly twice the amount raised two years ago.

Chris Strong, director of development for the hospital foundation, credited the sharp rise in proceeds to a benefit underwriting program that this year included nearly 100 individuals and corporations--a neat trick (but not a new one) here in the land of endless charity bashes.

This year's receipts will help pay for the hospital's 32,000-square-foot facility for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), now being built and scheduled to open early next year, according to Charles Kovac, chairman of the hospital foundation.

As described by Dr. Thomas Broderick, the radiologist who will be in charge of the facility, the imaging is a diagnostic tool used primarily to detect diseases of the brain and spinal cord. St. Joseph uses a mobile MRI unit, which it shares with sister hospital St. Jude in Fullerton. Broderick estimated that there are 500 MRI units in the nation.

After cocktails and doctor shop talk, guests found their seats in a ballroom the size of a playing field and sat back for a four-course dinner (you would have needed track shoes to table-hop at this party), while Vereen rode a Lear jet west from Las Vegas.

The talented singer/dancer--who came with a $45,000 price tag, according to Strong--delighted the crowd with an eclectic hour of Broadway hits and pop tunes. The musical high point came after the first of two standing ovations, when Vereen stepped down from the stage and out into the crowd for an emotive version of "Stand by Me."

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