First off, let me start by wishing all you mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!
Two of last week’s biggest events were all about our four-legged friends, and they both took place on the same day.
The Crowne Plaza quite literally went to the dogs for the Companion Animal Alliance’s second annual Fur Ball May 4. Of course, kitty cats were invited, too, but make no mistake — the dogs ruled.
The black-tie event had not only people donning their finest apparel but their pets as well. There were yummies for everyone and a tempting silent auction. And, when you got ready to take a break from pet parenting, you simply dropped your baby off at the Petz Plaza spa and day care for a little TLC and socializing.
In a break from all the frivolity, the alliance took a few moments to publicly thank founder Paula Schoen and interim LSU Chancellor/President William Jenkins for their longtime dedication to the welfare of animals and support of CAA.
Before partying with pups, I was studying horses to try and pick the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby at the Junior League’s Triple Crown Derby at Juban’s Restaurant. Ninety percent of the women came sporting some of the most beautiful hats I’ve seen in a while, and, while only a few men opted for head gear, there were lots of seersucker and linen suits.
Bengal Belles founders Aimée Simon and Carolyn Hebert and I had the arduous task of selecting one woman and one gentleman to win the prize for best dressed. Those titles went to Cathy Giering and David Rollins. Since we’re all three prone to bend the rules, we just had to give honorable mentions to Elizabeth Ferrari and Brien Buxton, who had me playing my game of roulette. I won on the first spin then lost all my chips. Oh well, it was time to head to the next event.
I also partied with the Junior League when it honored Nell McAnelly as its Sustainer of the Year at a luncheon at the City Club May 2. Nell chaired the very first Hollydays, quite pregnant with daughter Megan, who is now a league provisional. In fact, she gave birth just two days after the three-day holiday market wrapped up.
“When you think of Nell, Hollydays immediately comes to mind,” said Nancy Crawford, last year’s Sustainer of the Year, who went on to recount how this “meticulous planner” and math professor has served not only the Junior League but numerous other organizations.
My last stop the night of May 4 was “Wendy’s Birthday Bash for Organ Donation” at Ruffino’s Restaurant. This annual celebration of the late Wendy Marx’s campaign to increase organ and tissue donation awareness is hosted by brother Jeffrey Marx, wife Leslie Herpin Marx and Olympic champion Carl Lewis.
Along with Wendy, Jeffrey and Carl founded the nonprofit Wendy Marx Foundation for Organ Donor Awareness in 1990 after Wendy underwent a kidney transplant. When she was diagnosed with hepatitis B for the second time, a transplant didn’t arrive in time and Wendy died at age 36.
“You’re all a testament that Wendy still has the power to bring good people together,” said Jeffrey, who chronicled Wendy’s battle in the book, “It Gets Dark Sometimes.” “There are 118,000 people waiting for an organ transplant right now; 1,700 in Louisiana alone. Nineteen people die every day due to donor shortage.”
Fortunately for Luke Shiroda, there was a donor for mom Wendy, who has undergone two liver transplants. Luke presented an award to former LSU baseball coach and Athletic Director Skip Bertman from Donate Life America. Bertman narrated a PSA that aired on WBRZ-TV about organ donation for Luke’s bar mitzvah project.
Twelve of the city’s go-getters were recognized for their volunteer efforts at the 42nd annual Volunteer Activists Luncheon May 3 at the Renaissance Hotel to benefit the Baton Rouge Speech & Hearing Foundation. In a nod to those previously honored, past Activists presented the awards to Martha Ann Abshire, presented by Bobbie Carey; Jairo Alvarez-Botero, presented to children Anna and Sebastian by John Pastorek; David Bondy Jr., presented by Liz Treppendahl; Barbara Anne Eaton (who was also celebrating her birthday), presented by Pat Shingleton; Barbara Freiberg, presented by John Spain; Verni Howard, presented by Mary Terrell Joseph; Jim McIlwain, presented by Sean Reilly; TJ Moran, presented by Scott Berg; Bill O’Quin, presented by Beau Olinde; Laura Poché, presented by Mary Beth Chevalier; Matt Saurage, presented by brother Hank Saurage; and Len Sedlin, presented by wife Trish Sedlin.
Sandi and Chip Robinson received the Margaret Neely Award for helping to raise almost a quarter million dollars for the Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior & Development, which is being built at the LSU Innovation Park to replace the out-dated, space-limited foundation. Executive Director Melissa Juneau also took the opportunity to publicly announce that the Emerge Center Capital Campaign to build a new center to meet the growing demands for services had reached its $7 million goal. Also helping toward that goal was Quota Club of Baton Rouge, whose president, Dr. Carol Patin, presented Juneau and board President Jean-Paul Perrault with a check for $20,000.
Friday night had me at the C.B. Pennington Jr. Conference Center for the Rotary Foundation’s black-tie gala welcoming Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka, of Japan, to the Capital City. The evening was hosted by Rotary Districts 5830, 6190, 6800, 6820, 6840 and officials from the 15-state Heart of America Rotary Zone. In conjunction with the Baton Rouge Center for World Affairs, traditional Japanese dancers entertained.
Hollywood South, as Baton Rouge is fast becoming, was the topic of discussion at the May 2 Woman’s Club coffee — the last one of the season. Celtic Media’s Patrick Mulhern was full of tales from movies that have been shot here (Did you run into Tom Cruise at Whole Foods?), ones that were supposed to be (no pirates for BR) and those that are headed our way (something about dinosaurs). Let’s just say it’s impressive.
“There’s much more to the story than tax credits,” said Mulhern. “It’s all about economic impact — a $1.4 billion economic impact … We’re taking creatives, some of the best minds, out of other states.”
Cameo artist for the coffee was Sonya Mendes DeGouveia. Veteran club member Trish Sedlin also presented the club with a silver ladle.
Debra Tarter was party chairwoman. Assisting her were Eugenie Burglass, Pat Richards, Charlotte Koch, Louis Michelli, Liz Bevens, Susan Pool, Thelma Herthum, Mae Belwin, Nell Mitchell Doughty, Diane Finny and Polly Williams.
Five debutantes and 11 princesses were in the spotlight at the Growing into Elegance Gala April 27. Debs included Amber Chatman, daughter of Torry and Anthony Hills, escorted by Tyler Howard; Larrian Ducre, daughter of Rhonda and Larry Ducre, escorted by Jordan Miller; Kaylan Hills, daughter of Sherlitha and Kentrell Hills, escorted by Robert Square; Tajah Smith, daughter of Dafne Smith, escorted by Justin Hills; and Imari White, daughter of Roxonn Jones and Clarence White IV, escorted by Malique Brookins.
Princesses included Kalei August, daughter of Jude and Kevin August, escorted by Tony Ducre Jr.; Calista Boudreaux, daughter of Jeanne Boudreaux, escorted by Ducre Jr.; Julia Connor and Kennidee Elias, daughters of Lori and Christopher Elias, escorted by Jordan August and Ducre Jr., respectively; Erica and Erin Link, daughters of Temorror and Edwin Link, escorted by Jordan Howard and Cedric Melancon, respectively; Catherine Poss, daughter of Sherry and Stephen Poss, escorted by Ezra Grant; Anaiyah Rainey, daughter of Tjuana and Anthony Dennis, escorted by Grant; Raven Square, daughter of Tammy and Robert Square, escorted by Jamal Nicholas; Reagan West, daughter of Cherilyn Andrews and Jermaine West, escorted by Ray Washington; and Anaiah White, daughter of Leah and Quannas White, escorted by Luis Baptiste.
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