Monday, September 19, 2011

An Affair to Remember

 Gala Corporate Chair Paul G. Stern with Event Chair Grace Bender
By contributor Donna Shor
Photos credit: Eli Turner

At Friday night’s stunning gala benefiting the lung cancer research of the LUNGevity Foundation, every detail was perfect - whether the décor, the food, the music or the flowers.

Magnificent floral arrangements of white and apple green with masses of delicate purple orchids were matched in the veiling of colored lights bathing the columns of the ballroom. Even the table service and glasses were of especially fine quality as well.

Morning News Anchor Andrea Roane of WUSA-9
The gala was accurately named: a Musical Celebration of Hope. Music seemed to be in every corner after a dozen violinists flanked us on the stairs into the Andrew Mellon building, and that was just the beginning. During the entrance and cocktail hour we heard the black-tie-clad Strolling Strings, The Marcus Moore String Trio, Chelsey Green and the Green Project, and harpist Monika Vassey.

During the excellent dinner ―salad of crab, Maine lobster and avocado salad, then rack of lamb and fresh peach ice cream cake― we heard from solo pianist Richard Blumenfeld and Philip Doc Martin and DC Fusion. Martin’s group and Sound Connection played for the dancing that followed. Admirable wines were served throughout the dinner.

Alexandra de Borchgrave Grace Bender former Congressman Michael G. Oxley
Grace Bender was the tireless chairman whose energy and taste created this outstanding evening.  Honorary chairs were Vernon and Ann Jordan, and vice chairs the Hon. Frank and Marcia Carlucci, and the Count and Countess de La Haye Saint Hilaire. 

WUSA morning news anchor Andrea Roane emceed the program, which included the presentation by Andrea Stern Ferris of the Face of Hope Award to lung cancer survivor and former Congressman Michael G. Oxley,who works to elevate awareness and change policy. 
Gala Honorary Chairs Ann and Vernon Jordan

Thanks to the sold-out seats, the live auction led by Lynne Zink and the generous corporate contributions, Grace Bender was able to announce that over a million dollars were raised for the LUNGevity Foundation’s cause. Further, every penny raised will go to lung cancer research as the Stern family, headed by Dr. Paul Sterm, husband of the late Pat Stern, had underwritten the entire evening.

Former Ambassador to Denmark and developer Stuart Bernstein; Gala Chair Grace Bender; and Wilma Bernstein

"Pat Stern was a woman of exceptional warmth and kindness and an unforgettable friend. She was the mother of Andrea Stern Ferris, the LUNGevity foundation’s president and chairman of the board."  Grace Bender evoked Pat when she thanked the audience, the committee and all who had helped with the evening that created so much hope for others. 

LUNGevity Foundation President Andrea Stern Ferris; Gala Chair Grace Bender; former Cong.Michael G. Oxley and wife Pat

John Sweeney, Swiss International Air Lines’ Erin King Sweeney Grace Bender and Cong.Pete King
Grace summed it up: “My friend Pat Stern first learned that she had lung cancer from a routine x-ray taken during her annual physical. Tragically, it was already too late for her. This evening was made possible because her family decided to make a difference. When they asked me to chair this event, I did not hesitate because of my strong belief that the earlier a disease is found, the better the chance of survival.”