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Joining me at UCI MIND's "Celebrating Classic Memories" Gala were its co-chairs, from left, Sean and Alice Cowell and Tom and Dana Chou

Joining me at UCI MIND’s “Celebrating Classic Memories” Gala were its co-chairs, from left, Tom and Dana Chou and Alice and Sean Cowell

The Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND) held its fifth annual Time of Your Life Gala in celebration of 25 years of funding research to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. This year’s gala, “Celebrating Classic Memories,” drew on memories from the ’30s and ’40s, with a classic black and white theme, which many of the 250 guests emulated in their dress. The Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana proved a more than suitable venue, as vintage cars and airplanes from that era were the perfect backdrop for the gala’s theme. Greeting guests on the red carpet was the ever-popular UCI MIND Director of Development and Donor Relations Linda Scheck.

An event highlight was Bill Stout’s Big Band 2000 playing music of the era throughout the cocktail reception, which offered cheese stations paired with either champagne, beer or tequila/whiskey along with a tempting selection of silent auction items featuring pictures of movie stars on item numbers and description boards.

I enjoyed meeting the two young couples who were the gala co-chairs. Sean and Alice Cowell and Tom and Dana Chou volunteered their time because they have been touched by a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s. Tom, whose mother passed away from Alzheimer’s last year, said of UCI MIND, “It’s been a great experience getting to know the organization and what they do.” Alice, whose husband Sean’s mother is suffering from the disease, said, “UCI MIND has been an amazing resource for us.”

The dining area, which was camouflaged throughout the cocktail time by white chiffon draping, revealed a stunning all-white dinner venue with square and rectangular tables covered in white faille with white leather chairs and baby’s breath centerpieces. Asher Entertainment’s performance drew enthusiastic applause as its dancers replicated the exact dance moves from famous classic movie scenes projected on large screens throughout the room. Singing in the Rain was great fun!

Burton Young and Rand Sperry proved engaging masters of ceremonies, with UCI Vice Chancellor of Advancement Gregory Leet espousing UCI’s 50th anniversary and its impressive alumni, who are, as he stated, “a growing force in our community, state, nation, and world.” Three of those alumni were honored at the gala, and introducing them were UCI MIND Co-Directors, Frank La Ferla, Ph.D. and Dean of the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences, and Andrea Tenner, Ph.D. The UCI alumni honorees, recognized for their leadership, advocacy and support for Alzheimer’s research, included University of Redlands Professor James B. Pick, Ph.D, Industry Marketing, Caring.com Vice President Shannon Ingram, B.A., and Silverado Care Communities Senior Vice President of Operations Michelle Egerer, M.Ed, B.A.

A powerful video showing the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on the nation, which featured its devastating statistics, closed with dancers from Asher Entertainment performing the Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake, “Love Never Felt So Good.” As they danced, the entire room transformed into color through lighting and a lounge area with colorful furniture was revealed along with a full-on casino area. The Dessert Lab featured customized UCI MIND mini-cheesecakes with a selection of wines presented in test tubes. Very clever! Cake pops and mini-cupcakes were also offered.

Needless to say, the evening continued with guests gambling for a good cause and dancing the night away in celebration of a successful event, which garnered net proceeds of more than $100,000. Kudos to Linda Young and Elite OC Productions for overseeing the gala’s entire production.

Selected photos from Happy Photos