Jessica Penner and Zuzana Moravcikova breezed into the Beverly Hills Hotel, hockey sticks in hand. One stick belonged to Jessica's husband, Dustin Penner of the Los Angeles Kings, the other, to his teammate, Zuzana's fiancé, Michal Handzus.
Stacia Robitaille brought a Hall of Fame jersey from her husband, hockey legend Luc Robitaille.
A steady stream of women followed, bearing sports tickets, autographed equipment and other memorabilia from the Lakers, Dodgers, Clippers, Kings, Galaxy and Chargers.
Why so many goodies? They were the price of admission to Wednesday's Sports Spectacular Women's Luncheon, highlighted by a Madison runway show, with fashions described by Emily Goldstein, owner of the Southern California boutiques, as "contemporary — with an edge." Guests either paid $250 each for their tickets or, of potentially greater value to the charity, donated auction items for the upcoming May 22 Sports Spectacular dinner to benefit the Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute.
And, according to organizers, the women who give sports items give generously. "All of the things that are personally signed by the athletes are absolutely the most valuable to us," said luncheon executive director Julie Harelson. "When the wives are bringing it, you know the authenticity; you know the caliber and the quality."
Close to 350 guests turned up, many of them related to players, team owners or sports executives. Harelson's co-chairs were Tonya Winfield, married to baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield; Linda Rambis, wife of Minnesota Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis; and Sharon Hernandez. Others present were Natasha Duffy, married to four-time NBA champion John Salley; Nancy and Stephanie Turner, wife and daughter, respectively, of San Diego Chargers Coach Norv Turner; Linda Murray, married to Kings Coach Terry Murray; and Bernadette Leiweke, whose husband Tim Leiweke is chief executive of Kings team owner AEG.
The March 19 REDCAT gala drew guests from film, television, the visual and performing arts, and a considerable variety of other businesses.
"Where else can you find a crowd like tonight?" asked Ed Harris, a four-time Academy Award nominee and the night's emcee, as he began the ceremonies, which honored philanthropists Edythe and Eli Broad and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Harris and his wife, Amy Madigan, an Oscar nominee herself, joined the 250 gala-goers filling the experimental theater, transformed for the night by artist Choi Jeong Hwa via 10 majestic chandeliers reflected onto mirrored tables.
Weerasethakul, whose film "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" won the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or prize, was so touched by the turnout that on stepping up to the stage, he snapped a picture of the audience.
Artist Mike Kelley came, he said, to "support Eli Broad's support of the arts," which includes plans for his new museum downtown. Artist Ed Ruscha, on presenting the couple with their award, called the neighborhood where the new museum will be built "the hot spot we dreamed of," listing the Walt Disney Concert Hall, MOCA and the Colburn School, among other nearby art venues.
With prices ranging from $850 per ticket to $50,000 per table, organizers estimated that net proceeds of $500,000 will go to REDCAT.