By Kate Benz, social columnist for Trib Total Media. Photo by John Altdorfer.
“What an evening this is going to be.”
Emcee Larry Richert’s promise of good things to come arrived signed, sealed and delivered for a sold-out ballroom filled with 780 guests of JDRF’s (formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Rainbow Gala.
The first inkling of wonderment came via Bonnie Walker and her namesake events company, who had swapped out the ordinary for an old-world circus that playfully slapped the happy on everything.
“It’s elegant and whimsical at the same time,” she said.
It was hard to pinpoint whether the red-and-turquoise pipe and drape that swathed the entire space, 900 feet of globe string-lights, gold leaf mirrors, cabanas, or the marquee light-bulb sign was the sweetest piece of eye candy, until guests caught a glimpse of the fish bowl centerpieces … goldfish included.
“Each year she continues to outdo herself,” offered Western Pennsylvania chapter board prexy Nan DeTurk (with Steve).
Par for the course, cocktail hour somehow morphed into the main event, where Gary Racan and the Studio-e Band hit the first note and immediately filled the dance floor. Meanwhile, plates came with much-appreciated precision as honoree and past Western Pennsylvania chapter prexy Maureen Breen Barunas was welcomed to the stage in part by her adult son, Ryan, whose heartfelt introduction caused a few teary eyes, including those of his mom.
“We are all here tonight because of people like her who believe we can win this fight,” he said.
The fight is aimed at delivering a KO to Type 1 diabetes, believed to affect 3 million Americans — the majority of which are children and young adults. If there was ever any question as to how dedicated this group is to finding a cure, perhaps the whopping $1.4 million raised to help support efforts to find a cure will put any lingering doubts to rest.
Among the VIP list on April 20 were event chair Robert German (with Anne), co-chairs Maria Metro (with Dr. David) and Cindy Paul (with John), Mary Beth Allegretti, Tom and Bonnie VanKirk, Morgan and Kathy O’Brien, Dave and Kathy Sharick, Dr. Stanley and Nikol Marks, Roseanne Wholey, Debbie and Mike Barbarita, Jodi Palamides (her son, Jay, was a Junior Ambassador), and Lawrence and Constance Manypenny.