The Crowd: Breathing life into cystic fibrosis fundraising

June 29, 2011|By B.W. Cook
  • Amy Williams, T.J. Williams, Sue Hook, and Shawn Parr at Cystic Fibrosis Gala.
Amy Williams, T.J. Williams, Sue Hook, and Shawn Parr… (Drew Hoyer, Daily…)

The 28th annual gala in Newport Beach on behalf of cystic fibrosis research and a cure raised an impressive $603,000 net. More than 400 generous guests in early summer black tie and glitter helped to gather the significant sum, via underwriting and auction bidding, at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa on June 4. It was a party with purpose and passion.

Each year organizers, led by Cystic Fibrosis Guild of Orange County President Sue Hook, select the recipient of the "Breath of Life Award." It goes to an individual or couple who have demonstrated tremendous support of the CF cause.

The 2011 honor was bestowed upon Perry Daskas, father of a 15-year-old girl fighting the disease. The crowd offered a standing ovation as testament to the dedication of Daskas. More importantly, the applause was a message of hope for his child and for all of those in the audience and beyond the ballroom fighting to overcome the ravages of CF.


Emceed once again by radio personality Shawn Parr of station KKGO, the evening was really more of a love fest than simply another gala dinner on the circuit. Families came together to share their stories, a united front against CF.

One family in particular, one of many, shared the struggle of their 2-year-old child Beckett. Amy and T.J. Williams, daughter and son in law of former Angels baseball player Doug DeCinces, made it very clear that CF knows no boundary. The disease strikes people of all backgrounds. It simply does not discriminate.

Chairs of the successful gala, Dan and Gayle Demsher, pulled out the stops. The evening began with cocktails and a massive silent auction followed by dinner, live action and dancing. Bidding was high-spirited, with one couple offering to donate $100,000 as a matching gift when bidding reached a certain level. Gala volunteers deserving kudos include Karen Hall, Katie Horwich, Nancy Mallory, Dean Gerrie, Danni Good, Gail Isen, Paul Motenko, Stephanie Kahle, and Mike Shumard.

Major corporate sponsorship came from American Airlines, BJ's Restaurants, Lithocraft, Charles Schwab, Twin Med, and Traditional Jewelers, to name a few. Individual sponsors included Helen Galen, Ken and Debbie Johnson, Tom and Penny Ling, Todd and Sue Klug, Ron and Dianne Higgins, Barry and Myra Ross and event organizers Sue and Dave Hook and Dan and Gayle Demsher.

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