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The Crowd: 'Moulin Rouge' evening to aid cancer victims

October 26, 2011|By B.W. Cook
  • PASSION PLUS: George and Eden O'Connell raise the financial bar for Beckstrand helping to bring in $1.3 million.
PASSION PLUS: George and Eden O'Connell raise the… (Daily Pilot )

Consider this.

You are in your doctor's office and the tests have come back. The news is not good. The doctor tells you that you have cancer; surgery is essential followed by weeks of chemotherapy, radiation and potentially more treatment.

You take a deep breath. Mortality is not on your mind. Your own health and the struggle you face is secondary. What you fear most is the survival of your family, your children's expenses in school, the payment of your mortgage, credit card bills, and food being on the table.

Why? You have some savings. Your job is secure, yet a leave of absence would curtail income flow. You even have medical insurance. Yet the cost of cancer treatment, which can incur over months, possibly years, can, will and does wipe out most Americans financially.

Last Saturday evening in Newport Beach, a unique cancer foundation known as Beckstrand gathered its donors, organizers and a glittering contingent of famous Hollywood faces for a major fundraising gala at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort.

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They called it "An Evening at Moulin Rouge," the 2011 Diamond & Pearl Ball. Funds raised, a whopping $1.3 million in donations, will go to funding life essentials for people fighting cancer. Monies will pay rent, buy food, keep kids in school and in general assist cancer patients from facing total financial ruin as they fight for their lives.

It was an amazing event, even by Newport standards. Presenting sponsor Lugano Diamonds, represented by Moti and Idit Ferder and Stuart Winston, partnered with Beckstrand Executive Director Lil Spitzer to produce the event of the season on a French theme complete with can-can dancers galore.

Spitzer and staff, including Renee Leeson, Sarah Unke and Kaerie Ray, worked to support the phenomenal gala chair Renetta Caya, who is surely Newport's party planner extraordinaire. Caya's committee included Joni D'Amato, Cheryl Goldberg, Cindi Morales, Michaele Hall, Thomas Savage, Sophia Paliov and celebrity fashion designer Oday Shakar, to name a few. Shakar also dressed many of the stunning women in the crowd.

But it was not just the glamour of the party, or the fabulous menu or even the extravagant auction that helped to bring in the donations that made this event soar.

It was the love in the ballroom. The crowd opened their hearts and gave with their wallets because they got the message.

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