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Longtime Komen supporters Julie Ann and Jim Ulcickas join me at the Pink Tie Ball

Longtime Komen supporters Julie Ann and Jim Ulcickas join me at the Pink Tie Ball

A pink carpet arrival at sunset overlooking Lake Mission Viejo was just the ticket for the 400 guests attending Komen Orange County’s Seventh Annual “Pink Tie Ball.” The committee couldn’t have asked for a better night. It was warm – gals sat in strapless gowns, not needing a wrap all night – and nary a breeze rippled the entire time. I always look forward to this group’s annual benefit because I know I’m going to have a good time, and it is always done with such flare and panache!

One of my favorite couples who support Komen are Jim and Julie Ann Ulcickas. Jim’s Bluewater Grill has donated the ball’s appetizers every year, and Julie Ann has been on the committee from the beginning, having chaired the effort in 2007. I spoke to the generous couple during the cocktail reception, with Julie saying she got involved because of Komen’s commitment to complimentary mammograms and research. “I saw them helping underserved women, and that’s important to me,” she said.

Event producer Michael Mora’s magic included a whimsical showcase of individual hand-made stars made by breast cancer survivors, which were raffled for a chance to win a pair of diamond earrings valued at $6,000 from Black, Starr & Frost and two $2,500 gift certificates from the generous jeweler. Dinner, catered by Creme de la Creme, was superb, as was the Jay Sterling Band for dancing.

As always, PBS-SoCal’s Ed Arnold served as the ball’s classy master of ceremonies, with ball chairs Estela and Sam Riela welcoming everyone and thanking the ball committee and sponsors for their support. In particular, Sam thanked the ball’s founding sponsors, The Allergan Foundation, Lee Ann Canaday and Harald Herrmann. Estela, a two-time breast cancer survivor, later gave an impassioned speech about giving to the cause with her daughters Jordana Chapman and Jessica Riela by her side.

Auctioneer Dawn Kotsonis threw in her usual rule – “no spousal restraint!”- before starting the live auction. It worked. Bidding was brisk and generous. Harald Herrmann won the Bacara Resort & Spa package for $8,800 in a frenzy of bidding, and Angels fan Francie Pemper grabbed the Angles Baseball evening in a suite for 12 with baseball legend Rod Carew for $4,800 after Angels Baseball President Dennis Kuhl, a big supporter of Komen, threw in signed jerseys by star player Mike Trout and manger Mike Scioscia and a $500 food credit. The Ignite Your Promise bidding raised $120,000, with Chevron matching the first $25,000, helping bring the net proceeds for the ball to $258,900.

Komen Board President Lynn Jolliffe introduced seven new Pink Tie Guys, a designation given to community leaders who are committed to the Komen cause. Those given pink ties, courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue, South Coast Plaza, included Hector Infante (Chevron), Chris Lawrence (Opus Bank), Dennis Parks (WalkStyles), Sam Riela (Salstar Enterprises), Bruno Serato (Anaheim White House Restaurant), Scott D. Sherman (Allergan), and Dr. Melvin J. Silverstein (Hoag Breast Health Care Center). A cadre of Pink Tie Guys from previous years joined the newbies for a photo op (see photo).

I think the essence of the evening was brought home to me by a wonderful chat I had with a beautiful young woman at my table named Sonia Briseno (in the purple gown). She is a five-year cancer survivor who was treated through Komen and represents them in a national campaign targeting Latino communities. “Komen has my respect, gratitude and support,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them.”

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