Friday, March 20, 2009

ST. JUDE'S 6TH ANNUAL 4 STARS OF PHILLY GALA AT THE LOEWS HOTEL PHILADELPHIA

I wish I had a million dollars to give to every charity I cover, and the charities that touch my heart the most are the ones that care for children like tonight's charity St. Jude's Hospital.
Wikepedia states that St. Jude was founded by entertainer Danny Thomas on the premise that "no child should die in the dawn of life." Thomas named the hospital for Saint Jude Thaddeus, the Catholic patron saint of hospitals, desperate cases and lost causes. Thomas was a struggling young entertainer when he knelt in a Detroit church before a statue of St. Jude Thaddeus and asked the saint to "show me my way in life and I will build you a shrine." [1] Thomas's prayer was answered, and he soon moved his family to Chicago to pursue career offers. In 1957, Thomas founded the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), which helped him realize his dream. ALSAC is the fundraising organization of St. Jude. Since St. Jude opened its doors in 1962, ALSAC has had the responsibility of raising the necessary funds to keep the hospital open.All medically eligible patients who are accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family's ability to pay. St. Jude is the only pediatric research center in the United States where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. In addition to providing medical services to eligible patients, St. Jude also assists families with transportation, lodging, and meals. Three separate specially-designed patient housing facilities—Grizzly House for short-term (up to two weeks), Ronald McDonald House for medium-term (two weeks to 3 months), and Target House for long-term (3 months or more)—provide housing for patients and up to three family members, with no cost to the patient. These policies, along with research expenses and other costs, cause the hospital to incur more than $1.5 million in operating costs each day. Around $180,000 is covered by patient insurance, the remaining $1.34M/day is funded by charitable contributions.
In 1995, St. Jude received an anonymous letter postmarked Dallas, Texas, containing a $1 million winning game piece from the McDonald's Monopoly. Although game rules prohibited the transfer of prizes, McDonald's waived the rule and has made the annual $50,000 installments.

Last year when St. Jude's had it's fundraiser in this room, the heavy curtains were drawn. It was great to see them removed and the light of the day flooding the room, and in the evening the city lights ablaze.
Awesome silent auction, most items went at or above their value. I love silent auctions and won nothing, leaving with the same amount I went with sans the $1 left for coatcheck.
Joy Deurovak, Jeanie Torchio (Jeanie Torchio is the senior regional events specialist for the ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She plans and oversees five fund-raising events a year in the mid-Atlantic region) and Erika Speed

Denise Devlin, Heather Hartman & Melissa Donahue. I wonder if Heather won that figurine?
Jon Runyan “I am grateful to be a part of this Philadelphia tradition, said Runyan. “The work they do at St. Jude is so important. Please get involved today and start supporting a truly worthwhile organization. Everyone in attendance is sure to have a wonderful time!” With Kevin and Robert Renna
Betty & John Dove, Ellen and Beth Henry enjoy their 3rd year at the gala. Beth is on a mission to get St Jude's to do an event in South Jersey to raise funds as she really believes in their mission.
Brett Silver, the Barry Diller of Philadelphia. Look for all his work to appear at http://www.phlaremagazine.com/


(R) Keili suffered from brain cancer last year and thanked the supporters as she wouldn't be alive today without their help. Keili's mom told the story of survivor, many people were in tears, and frankly I almost had to leave the room (thinking of my sister, and Natasha Richardson).The evening will include a taste of some of the finest restaurants the Philadelphia area has to offer, cocktails, and a silent auction. The silent auction is one of the highlights of the evening, raising significant funds and generating tremendous excitement. Pod, Rae, Georges’, Ristorante Panorama, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Table 31, D'Angelo's, Saxby's Coffee (who are looking for a franchieser for the 15th St location), Mission Grille, Public House, Chima, Joe's Peking Duck, The Night kitchen, Ristorante Panorama, Terranova Wines, Victory Brewing, FIJI Water, The Oceanaire, Osteria and Continental Midtown
High School sweethearts, no but, met again a few years later at a mutual friend from high school's wedding. Christopher Nork just popped the question to Tiffany 2/27/09 at their favorite restaurant Alma De Cuba. Look for a January 2010 wedding.
The lucky table I got to sit with for the night: guest, a glowing pregnant Carrie Nork Minnelli, Dino Minnelli, JimmyStyle Jimmy Contreras, Stephanie, Christopher Nork, Laura Burkhardt, Mac Francis, Megan Stetcher and Krista Guido
Look for a special posting Saturday, might even include a Gerard Butler or Jamie Foxx photo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Arc of Delaware County Hosts “FunD Night” To Raise Money and Awareness for its Vital Cause - Saturday "All Shook Up" Event

Arc of Delaware County Hosts “FunD Night” To Raise Money and Awareness for its Vital Cause As DELARC prepares for the fight of its life to keep providing advocacy services to hundreds of Delaware County families, it holds their annual FunD Night this Saturday to try to raise enough funds while having some fun!


DELARC volunteers, Kathy Phy (far left) and her daughter, Amber Chandler (center) work the raffle ticket table at FunD Night as guests decide what prizes they want to try to win.
Comedian “The Legendary Wid” closed the show. He’s from the ABC comedy special “The Man with 1,001 Props.”
The Arc of Delaware County (DELARC) is a non-profit membership organization that advocates for the rights, opportunities and self-determination of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to provide advocacy services for individuals and their families, connect people with resources, improve systems of support and services, promote inclusive community practices and influence public policy.

DELARC is having another fine event this week that you might enjoy.

State Street Miracles & DELARC Pair the Arts & Advocacy for A Shakin’ Fundraiser

WHO: Performers from State Street Miracles; Friends & members of DELARC.

WHAT: Since March is Developmental Disabilities Month, the State Street Miracles, Media Theatre, and DELARC join forces for a dynamic pairing of the arts and advocacy to raise essential funds for their vital cause.

Guests will enjoy a matinee performance of “All Shook Up” and then a reception will be held featuring a performance by the State Street Miracles: a troupe of singers who also have developmental disabilities. Afterwards, guests will have a chance to meet the “All Shook Up” cast. All Shook Up” is a jukebox musical featuring the hits of Elvis Presley and a love story based on William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

WHERE: Media Theatre

104 East State St.

Media, PA 19063

WHEN: Saturday, March 21 at 2:00 pm followed by a reception at 4:00 until 6:00 pm in the theatre’s Crystal Room.

HOW: Tickets are $40. To purchase tickets for the Saturday March 21 matinee/fundraising reception: please call the DELARC at 610-544-6600 or stop in DELARC’s headquarters at 740 S. Chester Road, Suite G in Swarthmore.

AROUND PHILLY RANDOM PHOTOS

Random shots I've taken recently. Now that I know how to use my camera phone, I'm a real terror, of course it helps to clean the lens.

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, including my two stylish Yenta neighbors
A basketball player, I think it's Paul Hill? Here he is signing for the "fans" outside the Four Seasons Hotel 3/2/09

There's a new grocery store coming to the Logan Square neighborhood. Arch Street Gourmet. They're hiring too.Looking for Gerard Butler, but found these two cute dogs instead.

Juvenile Justice Center. I walked by yesterday, it's all gone, but I got this shot 2 weeks ago. Wasn't it an all male jail?Recently I noticed that the Iroquis has been lit. How ugly and distracting the light boxes are!

Melinda Doolittle was in town for a CD signing and singing. if you want to see a celebrity, you should check out the local bookstores & CD stores for signings.Today I was on my way to hang out with friends in the neighborhood. I passed these cute doggies in the window at the Dog Day Care Center on 11th Street.
I've been lazy filling up the calendar but will work on that this weekend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10 ARTS & THE RITZ-CARLTON ADD PEOPLE WATCHING TO THE MENU Plus new Signage, a Budget Price Menu & a Book Signing by Eric Ripert

Changes are coming to The Ritz-Carlton. I love the restaurant 10 Arts. I love that Chef Jen Carroll is a home town girl.
I hear the restaurant is doing fairly well, but like most places of late has added a budget menu but one of the problems is promoting it to the outside world. Recently they added these big banners to the front that scream HEY WORLD WE'RE NOT A BANK, but THE RITZ-CARLTON and 10 ARTS On the steps leading to the doors, currently people smoke there, well say good-bye to catching smokes under cover because I hear that the Ritz hopes to put couches and tables in this area. I say amen bring it outside Al Fresco. Who wouldn't want to do a happy hour there and a little people watch at the same time. (One of my fav restaurants in NYC is Mr. Chow's and they have a similar concept.) I hope they add a few palm trees to the mix.

RENOWED CHEF ERIC RIPERT OF TEN ARTS BY ERIC RIPERT, LE BERNARDIN & TOP CHEF

TO HOST COOKBOOK SIGNING AND COCKTAIL PARTY OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

PHILADELPHIA, PA - - Renowned Chef Eric Ripert will host a book signing March 26, 2009 at 10 Arts By Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia from 5:30-7:30p.m.

The event will feature signature canap├ęs from Le Bernardin, as well as Ripert’s favorite cocktails. The book signing is open to the public and only books purchased on-site will be eligible for signing.

Ripert will also mingle with guests during dinner in 10 Arts By Eric Ripert.

Ripert is chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin which has held three stars from the Michelin Guide since its inception in 2005. Le Bernardin has held four-stars from The New York Times, since three months after it opened and it has never dropped a star throughout four reviews; the only restaurant in New York to hold four stars for this length of time. In 1998, the James Beard Foundation named Le Bernardin Outstanding Restaurant of the Year, and Ripert Top Chef in New York City. The restaurant received the Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Service award the following year, and Ripert was named its Outstanding Chef in the United States in 2003.

The book signing will feature Ripert’s newly published book, On the Line: The Stations, The Heat, The Cooks, The Costs, The Chaos and The Triumphs (Artisan). Books must be reserved ahead of the event by calling restaurant reservations at 215.523.4024. (Chef Jennifer Carroll and Chef Eric Ripert at the ground breaking ceremony of 10 Arts)

When called for confirmation of this story, I got a "I'll get back to you." message.

NATASHA RICHARDSON the last photos taken of her

These are the last photos I took of Natasha Richardson (& maybe the last ones taken of her professionally); 6 weeks ago she attended the amfAR’s 2008 New York Gala at Cipriani - I had just arrived in NYC to cover Fashion Week and ran over in time to catch Liza then Natasha leaving.Here she is with TV exec pal Andy Cohen looking for their driver
Natasha Richardson spoke eloquently about losing her own father, film director Tony Richardson, to AIDS.
Her biggest fan asking for a photo with her. Natasha said hello to her by name, and then said over by the car because it was cold out and she wanted to avoid the
Autograzzi. Here Natasha tells "C" to come over and get her photo with her.
Unfortunately there were too many autograzzi and Natasha told "C" next time, as they always had a friendly relationship "C" knew that Natasha would remember. Today "C" is inconsolable, I am sad. Natasha was one of the nicest celebs I've photographed, very genuine, always smiling and seemed to bring the best out of her husband while dealing with being in the limelight.
Rest in Peace Natasha Richardson

Mardi Gras Gala to support the Epilepsy Foundation Eastern PA

On occasion I will feature someone else photos when I can't make an event when something comes up at the last minute. Photo credit Jonathan Meter.

Mardi Gras Gala to support the Epilepsy Foundation Eastern PA

Stephen W. Wouch, CPA, Managing Partner of Wouch, Maloney & Co., LLP, was crowned King of Mardi Gras for the Epilepsy Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania (EFEPA) black-tie fundraiser on Fat Tuesday, February 24, 2009.

“I am thrilled to accept this honor as 2009 Mardi Gras King,” says Wouch. “The Epilepsy Foundation is a fine organization that gave my family support when it needed it.” Philly News Reporter Erin Hearn the night before she announced her pregnancy, and husband Sal Paone
Volunteer Dorsche Pinsky and the faces behind the party, Allison McCartin and Julia Greenberger
Mardi Gras 2009 King, Stephen W. Wouch with Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA, Alexis Jahnke, and Miss Pennsylvania USA, Lindsey Nelsen
Epilepsy Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania Intern, Allison Delizzio and her seizure dog Tasha
The Gala honors a prominent Philadelphia leader for his community dedication and efforts. The festivities took place at the Ballroom at the Ben Philadelphia.

In the end they had about 250 guests and netted $44,000. For more information or to get involved with the foundation they can call me at (215) 629-5003 x107 or visit www.efepa.org to learn more about the Epilepsy Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NATASHA RICHARDSON BRAIN DEAD on St. Patrick's Day; ironically married to one of the most famous Irish men, Liam Neeson

Sad to hear about the terrible news regarding Natasha Richardson. I would be surprised if it didn't come out today or tomorrow that she has passed away. My father had a similar accident hitting his head in a fall in his kitchen, no blood or trauma visible. Within an hour became confused, was rushed to the hospital, airlifted to a Miami hospital from Key West, kept on life support until we flew down from Phila. Disconnected and then passed away a few hours later.

The first time I saw Natasha Richardson on the screen was in the movie "Parent Trap" with Lindsay Lohan. The first time I saw her in public was leaving the after party of "Dreamgirls" in NYC. They had a love affair that began on Broadway in 1992 while perfoming in Anna Christie . They were a NYC couple, living, working and raising their family there.
I saw them often, and there was denying the love they had for each other, and for their fans. This was the last photo I took of Natasha Richardson, maybe the last professional one ever taken of her. It was a few weeks back (2/5/09) as she was looking for her car when she departed an amfAR New York Gala to Kick Off Fall 2009 Fashion Week at Cipriani on 42nd Street. After posing for me, signing for the autograzzi and posing for a fan she waved with a smile. Love her, will miss her.Earlier today I wrote about my father, his passing and how we spread his ashes on St. Patrick's Day in 2005. You must read the entry regarding the miracle we experienced the day we spread his ashes.

A STORY THAT'S NO BLARNEY FOR ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Our family is of Irish descent, my dad was about as Irish as they come and every year as we were growing up he would throw a big party on St. Patrick's Day. So when he died one of his requests was that we spread his ashes in the Atlantic Ocean off of the island he lived on for half the year in Florida (he followed the fish each season) on St. Patrick's Day and have an Irish Wake. Every year on the anniversary I retell this story, it's a story of hope, and it really happened to us and I want to share it with you...Today marks the 4 year anniversary since we spread my dad's ashes in the Florida Keys as per his wishes. My father died suddenly at their house in Florida May 3, 2004. I like to mark this anniversary with this story each year: (Originally written March 23, 2005)

Last Thursday, on St. Patrick's Day, we celebrated my father's life by spreading his ashes about 2 miles off the Florida Keys (he had died unexpectedly the year before in an accident at this house). It was a beautiful ceremony. We had a St. Patrick's Day memorial party in the afternoon at the house as dad had requested.
In the evening (about 9PM) the family (including the under 15 set who were not at the house during the day) gathered on the patio to enjoy mom's key lime pie and other desserts by CANDLELIGHT. My nephew Kevin was the only youngin' to join us on the patio as the other kids ate inside watching TV. Kevin is a little over 2.5 years old (he had only met my dad about a handful of times as his family lived in another state) He doesn't really talk yet, as they say he is a slow learner and at the time we thought he was autistic, but he can usually put a word or two together once in a blue moon, and knows sign language for the important words like Eat, Food and Drink. Otherwise he talks gibberish as his speech teacher has told my sister. (This was one of the last pictures I took of dad at their house in NJ with mom and Kevin (Mom's Italian)He had never been to my parents house in Florida, and he was never in the backyard before this night (we all rented houses on a different parts of the island and had dinner at one another's house the previous nights, [he never saw my dad on a boat, we only have one photo of Kevin and my dad together, he had only met him a handful of times as my sister lived out of state.] As we sat around the table on the patio, and after about 20 minutes of eating and chatting KEVIN stands up and points into the darkness towards the water where my dad's boat use to be docked (as it was sold after dad died) and states "POP-POP, boat." He says this a few times. He goes on to say Pop-pop, minnow. "Pop-pop, home" "Pop-pop hello." "No bait to fish"A very emotional Mom then asked me to go get a photo of dad and give it to Kevin's dad. His dad, Frank pointed to the photo and says to Kevin, "Who is this? Kevin said Pop-pop." Kevin where is pop-pop? And then Kevin pointed towards where the stern (back) of the boat would be, and where my dad spent many hours tinkering (the boat was 26 feet long and has a definite stern, middle and bow section). (house and boat that I took on the day dad died when I flew to the Keys to see dad in the hospital before he passed. We were all sitting to the left, at the far right in the darkened part of the patio is a hammock that dad spent lots of hours on reading and snoozing)
As time went on, things got quiet and Kevin went back to gibberish, my sister Tracy said to me that it was like the movie the Sixth-Sense, I leaned over to her and said "Can Kevin see dead people?". (I don't think Kevin heard me, but his mother came over and tapped me on the head and looked at me with a disapproving look.)

THEN Kevin jumps up and happily states, as he was raising his arms in the air like he was going to do a cheer, "NO ONE is DEAD," "NO ONE is DEAD," "No Sad, No one Dead," Don't be scared, No one dead." After about a minute or two he stopped and began playing patty cake with Pop-pop? Then he played hide and go seek, even stating BOO a few times. Then he walked to the far (and less lit) side of the patio, about 25 feet from where we were all sitting, to where the empty hammock was. He then started pushing the hammock with TWO HANDS gleefully squealing "WHEEEEEE WHEEEEE ISNT THIS FUN...." Finally running back to where we were sitting stunned, Kevin stated one last time "NO ONE DEAD, DON'T BE SAD" "Pop-pop HOME"
At this point Kevin went on to play a game of stepping on someones toes, and then someone trying to step on his toes. This was a sight to see as he was clearly communicating and playing with someone (Pop-Pop?) as he was squealing in laughter and looking up. After a bit, as we were all sniffling and in a bit of shock, Kevin's frazzled dad Frank said it was late, and time to go, at that point the usually mild manner boy just burst out crying and actually threw himself on the ground backwards (not violently though). As his dad picked him up, Kevin turned 180 degrees towards the water, where the stern of the boat would have been, where my dad spent so many hours, and said bye pop-pop, bye as he blew Pop-pop a kiss good-bye

We all know how blessed we are to have had this amazing experience. And for months following this incident, Kevin would occasionally see Pop-pop and announce it to his mom and once had his mom call Nana to tell her, but sightings haven't occurred in about 2 years, and once in awhile when I see Kevin I ask him if he has seen Pop-pop, nowadays he has no idea what I am talking about, and that is just fine with his mother, as she doesn't want Kevin remembering seeing Pop-pop after he had died, so please don't tell him!

My Mike wasn't on this trip with me, and being Jewish/Agnostic he was skeptical of my story, until he asked each my sisters separately and the stories jelled. He's still Jewish/Agnostic, but knows that we saw Kevin chat with dad that day.