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Joining me at Rivals United for a Kure's Second Annual Gala were legendary head coaches, USC's John Robinson, and UCLA's Terry Donahue

Joining me at Rivals United for a Kure’s Second Annual Gala were legendary head coaches, USC’s John Robinson, left, and UCLA’s Terry Donahue

Rivals United for a Kure hosted its second annual gala, and the USC/UCLA football rivalry was forgotten for one night in lieu of raising funds for underfunded cancers. Held at the historic St. Vibiana Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, more than 400 supporters gathered to celebrate the two coaches who are legendary in their school’s football annals. UCLA head coach Terry Donahue and USC head coach John Robinson and their teams went head to head many times and, remarkably, became friends along the way. The two coaches gathered in front of Viviana for a great red carpet photo op moment with the schools’ song girls and Joe Bruin early in the evening, showing the rivalry, indeed, was laid aside for the evening (see photo).

The cocktail reception, held in Vibiana’s lush courtyard, featured interactive tailgate games, delicious hors d’oeuvres orchestrated by Chef Neal Fraser of the Strand House in Manhattan Beach and a silent auction that included impressive sports memorabilia – i.e. a football autographed by 20 Heisman Trophy winners!

Linda Young’s Elite OC Productions transformed the cathedral-­like space into a USC/UCLA-­‐themed party with dinner tables covered in black and white referee striped table linens with red and blue football centerpieces autographed by Donahue and Robinson.

The coaches, after receiving the Rivals United for a Kure Spirit Award, invited players to the stage who they felt represented the best in the sport. They included, from USC, offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, fullback Sam Cunningham, wide receiver Curtis Conway, quarterback Rodney Peete, and linebacker John Papadakis. And, from UCLA, quarterback Wayne Cook, linebacker Frank Stephens, quarterback Tom Ramsey, safety James Washington, and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Gary Beban. Each player relived special memories from their gridiron years, some quite comical. But, it was Beban who brought the cause home when relaying the fact that his son was alive after surviving stage 4 lung cancer. “It was contributions like yours that made the difference,” he said.

The live auction, with celebrity auctioneer from Storage Wars Dan Dotson at the helm, included a one-week stay at the Mauna Kea Hale on the Big Island, Lakers floor seats for two, a four-night stay for 12 guests at a luxury villa in Puerto Vallarta, and a special Olympic Torch from Peter Ueberroth’s personal collection, signed by him, from the 1984 Summer Games. Rivals committee member Julie Ann Ulcickas and her husband Jim Ulcickas, who own the Bluewater Grill restaurants, offered a cocktail party for 50 at the restaurant. It sold twice for $4,500 each time. And, when Greg Richardson won the Golden ticket raffle, enabling him to select any one of the live auction items, he picked the Bluewater Grill party. See a very happy Richardson shaking Jim’s hand in the accompanying photo.

Among those making it happen included gala co-chairs and former star quarterbacks USC’s Paul McDonald and UCLA’s Matt Stevens, both of whom serve as their team’s radio color analysts; mistress of ceremonies and host, anchor and reporter for Fox Sports West and the NFL Network, Lindsay Rhodes; Rivals co-founder and Kure It Cancer Research founder Barry Hoeven, whose company, US Storage Centers, was the gala’s Title Sponsor; Rivals United for a Kure Director Alison Hahn, and Kure It Director Karen Jones. Other major sponsors were A Better LA, the Hausman Family FoundationSperry Equities/Burton Young, who underwrote the VIP party, Argyros Family Foundation, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Center for Reconstructive Surgery, Chase Bank, City National Bank, Jackson DeMarco Tidus & Peckenpaugh, and Winslow T. Maxwell Charitable Trust.

Net proceeds of close to $300,000 are benefiting USC’s Norris and UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centers for the support of underfunded cancer research projects.

Photos by Carla Rhea and Happy Photos

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