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Joining me at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House High Tea and Fashion Show was Executive Director Deborah Levy and McDonald's owner/operator and past tea chair Isabelle Villasenor

Joining me at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House High Tea and Fashion Show was Executive Director Deborah Levy and McDonald’s owner/operator, OCRMH board of trustees member and past tea chair Isabelle Villasenor

The Orange County Ronald McDonald House High Tea and Fashion Show is always great fun – and for such a worthy cause! I’ll cut right to the chase here. When Jody Weisberg spoke at the elegant affair at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, my heart caught in my throat. This man was holding his beautiful young son Tosh, who at the time of the tea was 19 months old (see photo of them), and we learned as Jody spoke that he had lost his wife Megan during his son’s delivery due to an extremely rare condition that proved fatal. Tosh was born unresponsive and stillborn. Deprived of oxygen for a minute and a half, he was resuscitated, and that led to three weeks spent at CHOC, where Tosh had treatments for brain swelling and neurological damage, while his father was close by at the Ronald McDonald House. Remarkably, Tosh was released in stable condition three weeks later. Toby said Tosh received wonderful care and that the RMH staff helped him through some trying times. “The doctors and nurses said Tosh was a miracle,” he said. “With my wife’s passing, I was hoping something good would come from it.” Seeing this loving father with his beautiful, blonde-haired son confirmed his wish.

The fashionable soiree attracted 390 guests to the 24th annual high tea, which featured a very tasty assortment of tea sandwiches and pastries. The fresh-baked scones with Devonshire cream and fruit preserves are always a favorite of mine. I especially liked the gorgeous centerpieces with pink anthuriums and other exotic pink florals, and the event favor, an offering of two flavorful teas from Tea Forte’s World of Teas, was the perfect gift! Master of Ceremonies Zack Krone welcomed everyone and lauded the work of OC Ronald McDonald House and its 24-year history of providing a “home-away-from home” for more than 20,000 families so they can stay close to their hospitalized child at little or no cost.

McDonald’s owner/operator and RMH board member Patti Widdicombe thanked the McDonald’s family, which included restaurant owner/operators, suppliers and corporate attendees, as well as Fred Hill, former Philadelphia Eagles football star, who, along with his team and McDonald’s, built the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia in 1973. My dear friend, Isabelle Villasenor, who is a McDonald’s owner/operator with her two daughters Jenny Briones and Lisa DeBono, has chaired the tea multiple times in past years and is an OCRMH board of trustees member. This year she stepped back to let her daughters take a more active role on the tea committee, so Briones and DeBono thanked the many event sponsors and presented the top donors with a custom piece of artwork created by a child who stayed at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House. Krone led the live auction, which featured getaways to New Orleans and, more locally, to Montage Laguna Beach and The Resort at Pelican Hill. The “first-in-line-for-valet-parking” auction item was a big hit, with two winners each paying $200 for the privilege – Dr. German and RMH supporter Lois Secor. Also a hot ticket was the opportunity prize – a $1,000 Fashion Island shopping spree, which was won by guest Nichole Enearu.

With Fashion Island once again the tea’s fashion partner, the runway was filled with models wearing fashions from the upscale retail center. Casual to evening looks for women were featured from the following stores: Babakul, Bloomingdale’s, Johnny Was, Joie, and Rebecca Taylor. Ronald McDonald, in his iconic outfit, could not help but strut his stuff on the runway with a particularly fetching young model.

OCRMH’s Executive Director Deborah Levy thanked her staff, especially Special Events Manager Aly Hudspeth and Philanthropy Coordinator Virginia Schacher, and the volunteers, and, in introducing Jody Weisberg, said, “When I met Jody at the Ronald McDonald House, he was filled with such anguish, but I assured him Ronald McDonald House would provide him and his family a place of solace, comfort and support.” This amazing nonprofit provides solace, comfort and support to more than 2,000 families with seriously ill children annually. That’s a pretty impressive statistic! Net proceeds of $123,815 were raised at the tea. That’s pretty impressive too!

Selected photos by Jon Didier