'Drive the Dream' at O.C. Fairgrounds

The Childhelp "Drive the Dream" gala debuted last week at the Orange County Fairgrounds and Event Center. Chaired by Patti and James Edwards III, Diana and Chris Miner, and Priscilla and Dick Marconi, the evening was a smashing success, raising more than $100,000 for Childhelp charities.

Organizers pulled this off with very little time attracting a crowd of several hundred well-dressed guests for the midweek peek at the spectacular automobiles of the Barrett-Jackson car auction that took place on the weekend after the Childhelp gala.

The evening, billed as "Cars and Stars," began at dusk as the crowd was invited to preview the Barrett-Jackson inventory, which predominantly featured exceptionally restored American cars of the 1950s and 1960s.

As cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were served in the massive event center, guests reminisced over youthful experiences connected to 1957 Chevy Bel Airs, 1959 Cadillac El Dorados and Buicks that made granddad proud.

Checking out the moveable art was Newport philanthropist Roger Kirwan, escorting the beautiful Tracy Martin, barrister Howard Abel with his glamorous bride Olivia, actor Rick Schroder with his handsome sons Luke and Holden, Spanky and Amy Assiter, Melissa, Todd and Taylor Longbreak, and the stunning blonde Marcia Brashier wearing a summer sheath of crisp, white linen adorned with a multitude of white linen pedals at the neckline.

Marcia joined handsome husband Jim Brashier; both are associated with star Realtor John McMonigle, also supporting the evening. Standouts in the car crowd included generous community activists Sandra and Don Ayres, Valerio and Linda Giannini, Sonja and Gary Gray, and Carol and Kent Wilken.

Following the cocktail reception amid the cars, the crowd entered another building on the fairgrounds dressed for the upcoming auction. Draped in black duvetyn curtains, the massive room was hung with dripping contemporary crystal lighting. Tables were set with bouquets of white daisies and model cars resting in the center. The model cars were set to be transported to the young boys living at the Childhelp Village in Beaumont, Calif.

The party got into high gear, thanks to master of ceremonies, Ron Masak, of television fame. Heartfelt tributes were made by dedicated Childhelp national board member Jim Hebets attending the Orange County event with his wife, Carol, having flown in from Scottsdale, Ariz.

Hebets introduced Childhelp founders Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson. Both women have dedicated their lives helping disenfranchised children. They in turn thanked the crowd for their generosity.

Major appreciation was bestowed upon Craig Jackson, chairman of Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. for enabling Childhelp to join forces with the organization and produce the gala.

Special tributes were made to hair products corporation Eufora International for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Childhelp in their salons all across North America. Also honored were Judi Yates and Sarah Rodriguez for their commitment to the children.

As dinner was served, which began with a salad of Gorgonzola cheese, strawberries and mangos over designer greens followed by filet mignon resting on a grilled Portobello mushroom accompanied by crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp, auctioneer Spanky Assiter sold spectacular opportunities raising major donations for the cause.

Significant donors included Jacquie and Michael Casey, Cleo Bluth, Marie and Robert Gray, Leah and Joe Carroll, Sherri Worth, Valaree and Robert Wahler, Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom, Mary and Sheldon Rubenstein, Iris and Arnold Frankel, Richard and Laurie Rodnick, Linda and Bob Yellin, and Tony and Joann Fanticola.

As dessert was served, which included a trio of decadent delicacies featuring an individual key lime pie, chocolate ganache served in a Belgium chocolate cup, and an assortment of white and dark chocolate dipped strawberries, the highlight of the evening took the stage.

The 1960s British pop group Herman's Hermits, starring Peter Noone, charmed the crowd with renditions of their hit songs including, "Mrs. Brown You've got a Lovely Daughter" and "I'm Into Something Good." The best part was that they sounded exactly the same and looked even better.

Donors were out of their chairs and up onto the dance floor including Pam and Bud Pharris, Jamie and Jayson Hanson, Pam and David Dunzer, Rosalie Puleo, Monica Ruggieri, Loren Blackwood and Richard Moriarty, Jeannie Moriarty, Karen and Jack Swickard, Mary Allyn Dexter, Katherine Meredith, Nancy and Frank Whitlock, Shan Womack and philanthropic Eve Kornyei.

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