The Crowd: Supporting sea, fighting brain disease

It is arguably the grandest party of the summer on the Orange Coast. Oceana's Sea Change event unfolded Aug. 18 at the spectacular Mediterranean estate of Karen and Bruce Cahill, attracting a chic crowd of some 500 residents dedicated to ocean conservation.

The al fresco evening welcomed entertainer Sheryl Crow performing for her enthusiastic audience. Guests felt like they were being entertained up close and personal in their home by a superstar.

The celebrity contingent was a tour de force element of the summer party. Actor Ted Danson went table to table shaking hands and thanking patrons for their support. Celebs like Mary Steenburgen, Dennis Haysbert, the voice of Allstate insurance who served as emcee for the evening, and a roster of young talent mingled with the crowd at the sixth annual Sea Change party, which raised an astonishing $1 million net in support of Oceana's international ocean conversation outreach.

The biggest stars of the event were certainly chairwomen Eve Kornyei Ruffatto and Valarie Van Cleave, who pulled out all the stops to ensure the success of the night, rallying the most generous and most influential of Orange County's philanthropic crowd to step up to the plate.

It was a who's who attendance, including the presence of such glamorous patrons as Tricia Berns, Harriett Sandhu, Diana Martin, Sally Crockett, Mary Carrington and Leslie Cancellieri. Major support came from Bette and Wylie Aitken, Patti and Jim Edwards, Marie Gray, Michelle and Paul Janavs, Twyla and Chuck Martin, Lilly and Paul Merage, Joan Riach-Gayner, Jennifer and Anton Segerstrom, Sandy and David Stone, Joyce and Thomas Tucker, Valaree and Robert Wahler, and Jean and Tim Weiss, to name a few.

The evening paid special tribute to Oceana's Ocean Champions Alexandra and Phillippe Cousteau, the grandchildren of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Also honored was James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Connaughton served as President George W. Bush's senior staff advisor on environment, energy and natural resources.


A Hole In One For Foster Youth

The fifth annual Eric Pepys' Memorial Golf Tournament unfolded on the greens of Santa Ana Country Club on Aug. 19. It benefited the Orangewood Children's Foundation, specifically funding the advance studies scholarship program for foster youth.

As the summer sun set over the manicured golf course, the Pepys family, fronted by Shirley Pepys, told the sold-out golf event dinner crowd assembled on the club's stone terrace, "In five years, your support has enabled us to raise more than $500,000, and through Orangewood we have awarded more than 40 advanced studies scholarships to former foster youth."

She acknowledged the support of the Dan Houck family, whose financial support has made the golf tournament success a reality. Also recognized were dedicated members of the Pepys family, including daughter Renee Pepys Lowe, Noel Pepys, Tiffany Pepys Hoey, Catherine Smith Pepys and Charity Pepys, along with very dedicated golf committee members Frank Robitaille, George and Micki Rach, Jim and Joanne Grant, Kristen Brantley, Michele Koll, and Ellen Goodman, to name only a few.

The upbeat dinner ceremony also held a warm emotional tone as former foster youths pursuing educational goals addressed the crowd, sharing their very personal and challenging journeys.

Special guest speakers included Kyle Price, Kim Snodgrass and Ryan Wall. Thirteen more scholarship students, all of whom have been given a leg up courtesy of Orangewood support, also attended the event. The students were asked to stand and their university progress was shared with the crowd. Some of the schools represented were Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton, Southwestern Law School, UC Irvine, University of Minnesota, Claremont Graduate University, Vanguard University and Harvard University.


Making Memories Last a Lifetime

The UCI Mind Institute for Memory Impairment and Neurological Disorders held a June 22 benefit in the Hanger, in the Orange County Fairgrounds.

The lavish summer event attracted a crowd of nearly 500 patrons, who were impressed by the theme of celebrating cherished memories of holidays past.The spectacular production included vignettes representing all of the major holidays, from New Year's Eve to Christmas and everything in between.

Elite OC Productions partnered with UCI Mind to create a remarkable visual images experience using video at each particular showcase at the party. Caterers prepared specific food stations to complement each theme. This was one extravagant evening that took enormous attention to detail and preparation by organizers.

The over-the-top work was a labor of love for five co-chair couples, all of whom are touched by Alzheimer's disease in their families. Kudos go to Dana and Tom Chou, Alice and Sean Cowell, Jacqueline DuPont and Marc Carlson, Rosemary and Rand Sperry, and Linda and Burton Young.

Special honors of the night were presented to the Young family for their long-standing dedication to the UCI Mind Institute's programs. The evening raised nearly $100,000 net, which is earmarked for the UCI Mind Institute in support of efforts to battle Alzheimer's disease through cutting-edge research.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World