Over the past year, the Greenwich philanthropic scene delivered big on glamour, generosity and yes, even camels. Check out these highlights of some truly memorable events
Hats off to breast cancer research!
Photograph: Elaine Ubina/fairfieldcountylook.com
How many cents does it take to donate $100,000 to an incredible cause? Just fifty! At last November’s Children of Fallen Patriots Event, which provides scholarships to military children who have lost a parent in combat or training, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson flexed his heart muscles and checkbook at the Riverside Yacht Club event. The famous rapper/producer became a $100,000 Commander in Chief table sponsor.
Stepping Up to the Challenge
The touching speeches given at October’s Breast Cancer Alliance Luncheon and Fashion Show always stir up powerful emotions, though last year at the sixteenth annual event at the Hyatt, featuring Cokie Roberts, two guests did a little “sole searching” of a different sort. The women (who shall remain nameless to protect their innocence and shoe closets) got into such a heated bidding war on a “Year of Shoes” live auction item, that it turned into a $10,000 standoff. Andrew Mitchell was so floored by their fervor—and willingness to wage Manolo warfare for an amazing cause—that he got onstage and announced that for ten grand each, both well-heeled women would win a pair of designer shoes—every month for a year!—from Richards.
Everyone knows it’s worth the hourlong idle in your car to catch a glimpse of Paul Tudor Jones’ spectacular Christmas light show at his Belle Haven manse, and last December there was even more reason to wait. Jones’s 21-year-old daughter, Caroline, surprised listeners with her gorgeous recording of “Do You Hear What I Hear” with ChildrenSong of New Jersey. Now that’s what we call a traffic jam.
A month earlier, glittering Christmas trees and sweet gingerbread houses were auctioned off at the Junior League of Greenwich’s 35th annual Enchanted Forest at the Hyatt. The sweet treat for mom and dad? A cigar and martini bar at the Enchanted Evening gala that night, along with a hilarious act from comedian and Greenwich local Jane Condon.
Backing the Cause
Everyone felt like movie stars at Kids in Crisis’ Hollywood-themed You Ought to Be in Pictures Hoedown at the Stamford Loading Dock this spring. But the biggest scene stealer was Kids in Crisis founding member and longtime supporter Ann Martin. The Dolphin Cove resident appeared at the event—usually a blue jeans affair—donning a stunning black, backless dress. Whenever Ann turned around, guests got her message loud and clear: “I BACK KIC,” was written on her back by husband, Jim, in bright red lipstick.
Casual for a Cause
While most big-time benefits are synonymous with sit-down dining, Family Centers Dancin’ In the Street bash at the Greenwich Armory this past June barely required forks, much less tables—and its 350 attendees couldn’t have been happier. Rocking a street-festival theme with food trucks featuring gourmet burgers, pizza and made-to-order ice cream sandwiches, the event’s runaway hit was the Greek truck, offering souvlaki and gyros. Another surprising stunner was a parking lot turned beer garden with an acoustic band and Harpoon microbrews. (Psst … many women-about-town who’d never be caught dead with anything but a chardonnay in hand were witnessed in suds heaven.) Amidst the all-you-can-eat feast, guests partied the night away on the ferris wheel and dance floor alongside acrobatic break dancers and Stomp-style bucket drummers.
The bracing blizzard that knocked out our town’s power last October didn’t knock out the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s Gala honoring Stevie Wonder. In fact, the event drew over 1,300 guests who packed the generator-powered outdoor tent at the Hyatt Regency to see Michael McDonald, Darius Rucker and Javier Colon, The Voice’s season-one winner, perform. What really turned the tent into a powerhouse was a surprise duet. When Colon began singing Wonder’s “Sir Duke” onstage, he noticed Stevie grooving at his table, so he jumped off the stage with his microphone and went over to Wonder, and the pair took turns belting out the lyrics to an awestruck crowd. One guest called the event “nothing short of epic.”
Location, Location, Location
Parties and private planes go together like caviar and champagne, so it’s no surprise that the American Red Cross Red and White Ball, held in Westchester’s NetJets Hangar, had its 400 guests on cloud nine from the moment they stepped into the lofty space. (Thankfully, they were not charged for wine and pretzels.)
Those in search of good vibes, Lily Pulitzer and a glittering view of Manhattan dined under the stars at Greenwich Point Conservancy’s Beach Ball, which opens up the coveted seaside bluff on Tod’s Point each year for the occasion.
Below the Belt Bonanza
Tony-Award winning Eve Ensler, Vagina Monologues creator, isn’t known for being a wallflower, and she didn’t hold back at last April’s Planned Parenthood of Southern New England’s annual Spring Luncheon at the Hyatt in Greenwich. After showing a hysterical clip of Steven Colbert spoofing pap smears at Walgreens (psst...Google it), Eve took center stage with her famous opening line, “My vagina is angry,” and had the 500-plus member audience captivated. Her talk ended in uproarious applause—and not just from her like-minded baby boomers. A visibly pleased eighty-three-year-old Junior League member walked out of the event exclaiming, “That was a real shot in the arm, just what we all needed!”
It’s in the Bag
Thought the live auction at last year’s YWCA Old Bags Luncheon at the Belle Haven Club was a jaw-dropper? Emcee Terry Betteridge, who wowed bidders in 2011 by ripping a $20,000 Rolex off his wrist and tossing it in one of the live-auction bags, upped the ante at this year’s record-breaking event with two blinged-out timepieces. The first was Terry’s favorite ceramic and steel Submariner Rolex, which he cleverly slipped into a designer bag that sold for $4,000 (and said he’d buy it back for five grand on the spot). The second was a Breitling Super Ocean diver’s watch tucked into a monogrammed Prada garment bag custom designed for New England Patriot Tom Brady, by none other than Gisele, his supermodel wife. Whether or not Tom’s famous #12 uniform or Gisele’s itty-bitty bikinis ever graced the bag, one can only guess, but Terry quipped that he’d be happy to own it himself, given that he and Tom share the same initials.
If you didn’t don your cowboy hat and high heels last fall for Stetsons and Stilettos, the Greenwich Riding Trail Association’s fundraiser produced by donor Sabine Poisson and hosted at Earl Nemser’s renovated backcountry barn, you probably didn’t meet Miguel. Who is he, you ask? A mechanical bull. Guests in cowboy hats competed to win the first-ever, two-foot GRTA bull riding trophy, with Earl taking the prize (but the highlight was watching our very own Jack Moffly ride). Those who weren’t bull riding had their fortunes told by clairvoyant Janet Leigh, who captivated hundreds of partygoers with her no-holds-barred predictions. If that wasn’t wild enough, Abba-infused karaoke dominated the wee hours.
Wild by Design
Some parties were so exotic they practically required a passport. At Greenwich Hospital’s Casablanca Gala at Greenwich Country Club last October, all that was missing were Bogie and Bacall. Belly dancers gyrated alongside guests and a hookah lounge lured even the most buttoned-up patrons.
Guests took a trip along the coast of the Mediterranean at the Family Centers’ Silk Road Benefit last summer on Cummings Point in Stamford, where the most standout party patron was none other than a camel.
At this June’s Renaissance Ball for the Bruce Museum, zebra print fabrics, amber safari sunset lighting and an African drummer transported partygoers straight to the Serengeti.