Photography by Carla Rhea and Tony Lattimore
The legacy of Farrah Fawcett’s courageous battle with cancer was honored this past Saturday, October 13, during the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation’s Ninth Annual Diamond & Pearl Ball. Held in one of the most elaborately decorated hangars I have ever seen at the Orange County Fairgrounds, it was clear from beginning to end of the event that no detail of “An Evening in Russia” was overlooked. The black-tie affair was breathtaking display of creativity equal to the enthusiasm of the Beckstrand supporters in the room.
Guests perused what seemed like hundreds of auction items in a large area of the hangar which was cleverly decorated, transforming it in to a Russian winter wonderland complete with beautiful ice carvings, an ice vodka luge and a strolling actor who was the spitting image of Mikhail Gorbachev.
At the conclusion of the reception, guests gathered for the stunning dining room reveal complete with a recreation of Moscow’s Red Square and bevy of gorgeous, scantily clad vodka girls who performed and served Russian Standard Vodka martinis from trapezes scattered amongst the giant chandeliers which dangled elegantly above the crowd.
This year’s Ball was dedicated to the life of actress, model, mother, and original member of the iconic “Charlie’s Angels,” Farrah Fawcett, who succumbed to anal cancer in 2009. Fawcett’s longtime friend, author and filmmaker Alana Stewart, who currently serves as President of The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, was recognized for her notable contributions, and Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal accepted the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation’s 2012 Honoree Award.
Beckstrand patient Leigh Anne Marchesi eloquently spoke about her relationship with Beckstrand, and its many highly trained doctors and personnel who helped her with her own fight against cancer.
Eva La Rue, the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation’s National Spokesperson and star of CSI: Miami did a fantastic job as hostess. This was the third year that La Rue, who is passionate about the cause, served as mistress of ceremonies, along with Beckstrand’s powerhouse Executive Director Lil Spitzer. Community philanthropist Renetta Caya graciously returned as this year’s ball chair, and clearly she had a vision for the event which successfully netted more than $1,000,000 in support of the treatment and care of cancer patients.
Adding sparkle to the star-studded event, supporters in the room included actress Daniela Ruah of NCIS: Los Angeles, actors Dick Van Patten, Nels Van Patten, Peter Bergman, Don Diamont, fashion designer Oday Shakar and reality TV personalities Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley. I had the pleasure of sitting next to musician and rising “pop with soul” singing star Jaysin Voxx who kept us smiling with his great sense of humor.
Among the many VIP Beckstrand supporters who helped make it all happen were Jan Salta, Patty Collins, Moti and Idit Ferder, Keith and Mara Murray, Mike Bolen, and Dave and Holly Wilson to name just a few.
During the program, guests enjoyed a contemporary version of the traditional Kalinka dance, sipped on boutique wines, and enjoyed a gourmet feast fit for any Czar. The live auction offered some unique experiences including one to act as the Test Driver and Judge for the Robb Report Car of the Year in Napa, California, courtesy of Presenting Sponsor Lugano Diamonds.
The Diamond & Pearl Ball represents a celebration of cancer survivorship, with proceeds from the ball used by Beckstrand Cancer Foundation to provide cancer patients with advocacy and direct financial assistance for critical survival needs, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, food, gas, transportation, medical insurance, copayments, and prescriptions. Since 1974, the Foundation has been providing patients with support that enables them to remain focused on treatment and recovery.