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Susan and Tim Strader join me at the 2013 Father of the Year Awards

Susan and Tim Strader join me at the 2013 Father of the Year Awards

How could I resist attending a Father’s Day fundraiser honoring two of my favorite people? I couldn’t! Tim Strader and Wylie Aiken were honored as the magnificent fathers they are at the 11th annual Father of the Year Awards sponsored by the Orange County American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Father’s Day Council of Orange County. Held at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, 300 guests gathered to support the honorees and the nonprofits – the 72-year-old Father’s Day Council celebrates fatherhood thoughout the country and ADA’s mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of those affected by it.

With Maria Hall-Brown of PBS SoCal fame as mistress of ceremonies, the past honorees present from the previous 10 years were introduced. They included Alan Cortez, Greg Dillon, Richard Umphrey, Gary McKitterick, Bob McClellan, Fred Stefany, Jeffrey Matsen, Steve Tully, Mike Flynn, Marr Leisure, Jerry Pharris, Ed Arnold (Lifetime Fatherhood Award), Pat Galvin, Tim Mead, Sukhee Kang, and Mike Joseph. Hall-Brown then introduced Orange County Father’s Day Council Chair, event chair and past honoree Mike Flynn, who thanked the Orange County ADA staff for their hard work on the event, in particular Executive Director Allison Hickey and event manager Monet Quick-Smits. Flynn stated, “Fatherhood, family and community are the credo of the Father’s Day Council. There is no higher calling for a man than to be a father.” Collectively, Hall-Brown said that the honorees have raised more than $2 million to stop diabetes in Orange County.

Fred Stefany, chair of ADA’s Leadership Board, brought the evening’s message home by stating, “Every 17 seconds someone in our country hears the words, ‘You have diabetes.'” Continuing, he said, “Our committee and the men we honor tonight, as well as the 43 past honorees, understand the urgency of this and have taken a stand to stop diabetes.”

Guest speakers Steve and Janelle Darius and their sons 10-year-old Aiden and 12-year-old Cullen, both of whom have type 1 diabetes, spoke about their struggles with the disease. Both boys are ADA Youth Ambassadors and spoke to the U.S. Congress earlier this year about the importance of funding ADA. Janelle lauded ADA’s educational and research programs, as well as its Family Retreat and the impact it has on the lives of newly diagnosed families. Two more ADA Youth Ambassadors Emily Murray and Ian Siposs joined the Darius family on stage holding teddy bears that had 300 safety pins stuck in them, representing the number of times a month a child with diabetes has to stick themselves with a needle. Each honoree received a bear.

The honorees were introduced one by one and asked to invite their families to come on stage with them. First up was Managing Partner of KPMG’s Orange County office Dennis Parrott, who with his wife Tami of 33 years have five children, ranging in age from 16 to 26.  Daughter Macy spoke, lauding her father and saying, “He taught us that a small act of kindness goes a long way.” Dennis said of Tami, “Thank the Lord for meeting Tami in an elevator on the first day of college. She had me at the seventh floor!”

Wylie Aitken, a nationally recognized trial lawyer and founding partner of Aitken*Aitken*Cohn in Santa Ana, will be celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with his beloved Bette this fall. Their three children, all successful trial lawyers, were all present, with daughter Ashleigh doing the honors. “You’ve been a mentor/friend to us,” she said, “and have taught us the meaning of love, life and laughter.” Wylie concluded, “I’m here because of Bette and because I asked her out for a coke.”

Tim Strader was the attorney who incorporated the city of Irvine and later, as a partner of Don Koll’s, developed Koll Center Newport and Irvine. Forming his own company in 1984, his two sons Tim, Jr. and Patrick eventually joined him and today they are involved in major residential and mixed use projects through Starpointe Ventures in Irvine. The brothers, joined on stage by sisters Stephanie and Megan, spoke about their dad’s life – meeting his lovely red-haired wife Susan at a Halloween party and later “living with mother in a small apartment while getting a law degree at UCLA,” Patrick said. “Dad was an early role model to all of us because he was so much fun,” Tim, Jr. related. I know the Straders from their philanthropic endeavors, in particular the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, for which Tim was instrumental in its opening, was CEO for years and continues on its board today. Married for 47 years, the couple is a force in the philanthropic community. Tim closed, saying, “Susan is the inspiration that gets me going every day.”

One thing I noticed each honoree possessed in spades – a good sense of humor! The effort netted more than $256,000 for the American Diabetes Association.