The Crowd: Childhelp supporters show plenty of heart during recent fundraiser

Patti Edwards, event co-chair with Christina Ruiz,at the Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show
Patti Edwards, event co-chair with Christina Ruiz, recipient of the Children’s Friend Award at the Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show on June 14.
(Courtesy of John Watkins)

Patricia Ford and Gina Van Ocker, co-chairs of the 35th annual “For the Love of a Child Fashion Show & Luncheon” on behalf of Childhelp joined the organization’s national board member and passionate Childhelp advocate Patti Edwards at the podium fronting a sold-out crowd at the Balboa Bay Resort on June 14.

The triad of Childhelp leaders introduced the recipients of their annual Inspirational Award, bestowed upon generous benefactors Jacquie and Michael Casey. Jacquie Casey was called to the microphone to offer a few words. The petite blonde stepped forward, then hesitated. Her pregnant pause silenced the crowd. She began to speak, hesitating once again. With a third try, tears flowed, overcome with emotion, there would be no speech. Instead, her audience of several hundred Childhelp sponsors, volunteers and friends stood to deliver a standing ovation.

Jacquie Casey’s emotional non-acceptance speech set the tone of the afternoon. It was all about gratitude, giving back, caring for the most abused and neglected children in our society. No awards necessary, no glowing tributes or acceptance speeches.

Linda Burns, Childhelp chapter president with Diana Miner and Stephanie Rogers at Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show
Linda Burns, Childhelp chapter president with Diana Miner and Stephanie Rogers, director of community relations at South Coast Plaza at Childhelp Luncheon and Fashion Show held at Balboa Bay Resort on June 14.
(Courtesy of John Watkins)

The crowd gave with plenty of heart. Joining the Caseys lending support were major donors Madeline and Marvin Gussman and family, Patti and Jimmy Edwards, Olivia Abel, Suki McCardle, Barbara and Peter Ganahl, Beverly Cohen and Nancy and Arn Youngman to name only a few. The crowd converged in the ballroom for luncheon and a summer runway fashion show presented by Lafayette 148 New York in conjunction with South Coast Plaza, a longtime Childhelp partner.

The emotional topper of the event was an address from Christine Ruiz, former homeless and sexually abused child victim of trafficking and one-time ward of Childhelp’s Group Home in Beaumont. Her life story ripped the hearts out of the ladies and gents handsomely dressed and well fed, dining on an elegant luncheon of grilled salmon and a summer salad tossed with candied walnuts and sliced strawberries. Talk about contrast of facts of life.

Childhelp committee members making the fundraising event a success raising more than $400,000 were O.C. Childhelp Chapter President Linda Burns, Terri Carlson, Mary Allyn Dexter, Kelly Haugen, Susan Hill, Christine Johnson, Diana Miner, Joyce Simon and Katherine Meredith, among many. Spotted in the crowd were Sally Crockett, Eve Kornyei, Leslie Cancellieri, Sharon McKinnon, Twyla Martin, Carol Lee and Pam Selber.

Dick and Donna Pickup attend the Father's Day Car Show held at the Balboa Bay Club in June.
Dick and Donna Pickup attend the Father’s Day Car Show held at the Balboa Bay Club.
(Courtesy of Ann Chatillon)

A crowd of some 1,000 spectators converged on the upper deck parking structure at Balboa Bay Resort for the 14th annual Father’s Day Car Show produced by Aaron Trent and Melanie Hertrick at Balboa Bay Club, working with event chair and emcee John Wortmann, chairman of the board of Balboa Bay Club Governors.

The car collection featured some 70 impressive entries. Craig Lyons of Newport Beach took home the Governor’s Choice Award for a 2015 Porsche 918. Ricky Brand, in from Beverly Hills, captured the Best Luxury Car Honor with his 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III.

Also in the show were cars from John Marconi, Marlo Biundo, Ruth Clemence, Ken Owen and Thomas Maurzdich, who captured the Exotic Award with his 1971 Ferrari Daytona Spyder.

VIP guests examining all the motor artistry included Dick and Donna Pickup, former Newport Mayor Will O’Neill, Richard Moriarty, Devon Wortmann with fiancée Jared Miller, Craig and GG Lyons, Kathy and Noel Hamilton, Catherine Thyen, Devon and Kevin Martin and Todd and Natalie Pickup.

John Wortmann will also be lending his emcee talents and fundraising outreach on July 10 at an event being sponsored by Chris Brigandi and his team, including chairman Jake Janz at Newport’s Arbor Real Estate Co. on the Newport Peninsula.

It’s all planned to raise needed funds to construct a new headquarters on the beach for the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards Program. Brigandi and Janz have labeled the party “Make A Splash,” and it’s set to unfold in the Arbor building with legendary Jr. Guards founder Renie Boyer joining Graham Harvey and Will O’Neill front and center.

“We need to raise another $300,000 to meet the goal of $1.75 million,” said Janz. “We’re almost there. For a $1,000 donation, you get a supervised pier jump and your name on the permanent plaques.” To learn more go to

Music Director Carl St. Clair congratulates Honoree Richard Kaufman on  30-year anniversay as principal Pops conductor.
Music Director Carl St. Clair congratulates Gala Honoree Richard Kaufman on his 30-year anniversary as principal pops conductor at Pacific Symphony on June 12.
(Courtesy of Doug Gifford)

There’s been a post-pandemic triumph for the Pacific Symphony: More than $2 million net was raised at June 12 gala “Fandango: An Evening in Early California.”

Co-chaired by longtime symphony devotees Joann Leatherby and Leona Aronoff-Sadacca, the evening unfolded in Oso Viejo Park, Mission Viejo and honored principal pops conductor Richard Kaufman celebrating 30 seasons with the Costa Mesa-based orchestra.

A highlight of the evening was certainly the performance by the symphony orchestra; the first time in some 15 months under the direction of Carl St. Clair, music director. The sold-out event welcomed 356 patrons whose generosity will fund Pacific Symphony education and community enrichment programs as well as artistic programming and performances.

Gala Honorees Ling and Charlie Zang and Board Chair John Evans at "Fandango
Gala Honorees Ling and Charlie Zang and Board Chair John Evans at “Fandango: An Evening in Early California” event for Pacific Symphony held on June 12.
(Courtesy of Doug Gifford)

Special patrons honored were Ling and Charlie Zhang, John and Mary Tu, Ruth Ann and John Evans, Ellie and Mike Gordon, Roberta and Howard Ahmanson and Barbara and Alex Bowie. Also front and center for classical and contemporary orchestral music in the O.C. were Marcia and John Cashion, Janet Curci, siblings Patty and Bill Grubman in from Beverly Hills, Mary and Phil Lyons and symphony president John Forsyte with his wife, Michele.

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