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Joining me at UCI MIND's "Toast to the Holidays" fundraiser were MIND's Director of Development and Donor Stewardship Linda Scheck and Alzheimer's Association of Orange County's ???? Jim McAleer

Joining me at UCI MIND’s “Toast to the Holidays” fundraiser were MIND’s Director of Development and Donor Stewardship Linda Scheck and Alzheimer’s Association Orange County’s President/CEO Jim McAleer

Talk about a party! UCI MIND’s “Toast to the Holidays – Then and Now” gala was a win-win from start to finish. And, speaking from start to finish, Linda Young’s Elite OC Productions was in charge of every detail! The 180-degree projection of a succession of holidays on huge wrap-a-round video screens throughout The Hangar at the Orange County Fairgrounds was a sight to behold, and the 400 guests were captivated.

Guests viewed the “reveals” seated at white suede lounges, as in a private club, complete with bottle service on mirrored tables. They also enjoyed food samplings and silent auction offerings in vignettes throughout the room representative of each holiday. The Valentine’s Day vignette showcased scrumptious chocolates and superb champagnes. Thanksgiving featured a Thanksgiving home setting, complete with savory and sweet pies, while the Holiday at the Lodge vignette showed a cozy evening in a cabin filled with wine and hors d’oeuvres. New Year’s Eve featured a Big Apple countdown, complete with confetti, balloons and cabaret entertainment.

Entertainment, which was featured throughout the affair, showcased two darling scarecrow stilt walkers and a contortionist with a live snake (there was a Halloween vignette amongst the other holidays), a quartet of talented female dancers – a la Rockette style – high kicking through “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” and a quintet of carolers singing songs of the season. Models wearing the latest MaxMara cuddly furs and cold weather attire were spotted in the lodge, and during the Valentine’s segment, models wearing gorgeous red and pink gowns were seen atop raised pedestals holding Jessica Grant exotic skin clutches.

The five co-chair couples, each touched with Alzheimer’s in their families, included Dana and Tom Chou, Alice and Sean Cowell, Dr. Jacqueline DuPont and Marc Carlson, Rosemary and Rand Sperry, and Linda and Burton Young. In a surprise gesture, the Youngs were presented the Philanthropist of the Year award for their untiring support of UCI MIND. UCI MIND Director Dr. Frank LaFerla also made an appearance, along with his UCI MIND team, to talk about the complexities of the disease, its impact on the nation and the urgent need for funding. Binnie Beaumont, who has been fighting Alzheimer’s for 10 years, attended with her family, which included daughter Alison Hahn and her husband David, their children Siena and Melia, and daughter Catherine Beaumont. Alison shared how the MIND Institute has helped her family move forward with her mother’s illness and what an extraordinary facility it is for diagnostics and research.

The net proceeds, which reached $100,000, will be used to enable the MIND’s team to pursue innovative, cutting-edge research into the cellular, molecuclar and clinical risk factors of Alzheimer’s and other neuro-degenerative disorders.

Selected photos by Happy Photos