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Joining me at The Saks/Graff reception for CureDuchenne were its founders Debra and Paul Miller, Saks Fifth Avenue's Vice President and General Manager Chris Bues?? and Graff Vice President Alain Huy

Joining me at The Saks/Graff reception for CureDuchenne were its founders Debra and Paul Miller, left, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Vice President and General Manager Chris Bures and Graff Vice President Alain Huy

Thanks to Saks Fifth Avenue at South Coast Plaza and world-renowned jeweler Graff, monies were raised for research and awareness for the orphan disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The national nonprofit, CureDuchenne, was founded right here in Orange County by Paul and Debra Miller 10 years ago and is headquartered in Newport Beach. The Millers told me at the elegant jewelry reception held at Saks that the reason they founded CureDuchenne is because their son Hawkin, now 17, was diagnosed with the dreaded disease, which has no cure, when he was a young boy. Paul said that through the $15 million that has been raised, seven very promising clinical trials have been funded. “When the trials are approved, then drugs will be created to treat and cure the disease,” Debra explained. “It gives us hope.” They realize that it is a race against time since the disease, which affects thousands of boys and their families, destroys muscle strength and function and causes death between the ages of 18 and 25.

Generously, Saks and Graff donated 10% of sales at the 75-member reception, and there was a lot of interest. The Graff exhibit, which was celebrating the esteemed jewelry house’s 60th anniversary, was exquisite and featured show cases and vitrines of breathtaking jewelry throughout the private reception area. Tray-passed hors d’oeuvres and libations were served as Saks Fifth Avenue’s Vice President and General Manager Chris Bures and Graff Vice President Alain Huy welcomed guests. The Millers spoke briefly about CureDuchenne and its mission to save thousands of lives. Debra lauded her friend Elaine Wu, who is on the board of directors of CureDuchenne, and who was responsible for inviting many of the guests.

There was a lot of interest in the jewelry, and several ladies were trying on the baubles. I noticed one lady in particular. She told me her name was Catherine Chau, and it was her birthday. She was trying on a gorgeous diamond and emerald watch and smiling the whole time. Needless to say, smiles abounded! All in all, it was a good day for raising money for a good cause, especially one that needs more awareness in the general public, as is often the case with orphan diseases.

SAVE THE DATE: CureDuchenne is hosting a gala celebrating its 10-year anniversary on March 29, 2014, at the Balboa Bay Resort. Visit cureduchenne.org for further information.

Selected photos by Robert Rooks

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