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Joining me at Discovery Cube's Sherlock Homes-themed gala were, from left, Jillyn and Ted Verdon and Linda White-Peters

Joining me at Discovery Cube’s Sherlock Holmes-themed gala at Montage Laguna Beach were, from left, Jillyn and Ted Verdon and Linda White-Peters

The crowd at DiscoveryCube (formerly Discovery Science Center) loves to dress in costume at their annual gala, and this year’s theme, “Science in the Shadows,” was tied to the museum’s upcoming “The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes,” set to open June, 2015. The invitation’s attire suggestion was “Sleuth Chic” or “Steampuck” (combining Victoria era motifs with futuristic technology), and, as you can see from the photos, guests took it to heart. I’ve never seen so many Victorian/Sherlock/Punk ladies and gents except in a Sherlock Holmes television special, and even though I didn’t dress the part, I loved it!

My featured photo is with three people, who I really think the world of. They have supported the Discovery Science Center for years. I first met Linda White-Peters, seated right in the photo, in the early ’90s, when she was Director of UCI’s Women’s Opportunity Center. She moved up the ladder to Assistant Vice Chancellor of Community Relations, where she headed the CEO Roundtable’s special events, alumni relations and annual giving, growing the “wild bunch,” as she called them, from 20 to 80 members. In 2004, Linda accepted a job at Chapman University as the Director of Development for the university’s up-and-coming film school, later named Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. She was responsible for raising $42 million to build Marion Knott Studios, which opened in 2006. Then, Joe Adams at Discovery Science Center started calling, and the rest is history. Linda has been with DSC since 2007 as VP of Development, launching a capital campaign in 2010 for the museum’s expansion, which has so far generated $11 million. Since the first of the year, the very successful fundraiser has pulled back to a semi-retired position, so she and her sweet Ross can enjoy their time together in Newport Beach and Palm Desert. As to the couple in the photo, they are Jillyn and Ted Verdon, who I met through Linda because wherever Linda goes, they follow and support in a big way with their time and treasure. They, along with Linda (and Ross too), are the finest people you will ever meet. Seriously!

The gala, held at Montage Laguna Beach, drew 300 guests to the resort’s grassy lawn overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific for some light-hearted “schmoozing” and a chance to gather clues to solve the mystery of who stole the DiscoveryCube’s National Medal, when it took place and where they stole it from. It was great fun!

Dinner, awards and live auction were held in the resort’s main ballroom, where Joe Adams, President of DiscoveryCube and CEO of Discovery Science Foundation, welcomed everyone and introduced the boards of DiscoveryCube OC and Discovery Cube LA (more about this later). Cheryll and Richard Ruszat, gala co-chairs for the second year running, thanked gala sponsors (in particular Presenting Sponsors Montessori Schools of Irvine, ROHL, Standard Investment Chartered, Inc., and VitaTech International, Inc.), underwriters and their gala committee before Adams reclaimed the podium to talk about the Cube’s and Foundation’s new era. “As you know, we are here at the Montage instead of at the Cube in Santa Ana because we are in the midst of construction and expansion set to open next spring,” Adams shared. “Next year’s gala will be back home for all of us!”

Adams called the Cube’s Board Chairman and Boeing Company exec Rick Baily to the stage to help present the 2014 Arnold O. Beckman awards. The first award was presented to SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, formerly Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union, represented by its current President/CEO Bill Cheney and past President/CEO Rudy Hanley. “SchoolsFirst was one of Discovery Cube’s founding supporters and made the first capital gift 16 years ago,” Baily said. “And, today, their support continues with another capital gift to Orange County and support of the new “SchoolsFirst Teacher Resource Center” in Los Angeles.” Adams presented the other Beckman award to longtime supporters Julie and Tom McDorman, who he said have given their time, invested resources and served as dedicated ambassadors of the Discovery Cube’s brand and culture. “Both Julie and Tom are founding members of the INNOVATORS and have generously supported the capital campaign and played an integral role in the success of Discovery Cube’s expansion over the last decade,” Adams said.

Following dinner, Adams spoke about the Discovery Science Foundation’s expansion from one site to two, which will serve more than 1 million people in 2015-16 in science proficiency, environmental stewardship and healthy living across Southern California. “The new LA Cube opens this November,” Adams said, “and our own OC expansion, doubling our size, opens next spring!” Discovery Cube LA’s recently appointed Executive Director Kafi Blumenfield and board member Wendy Greuel, former LA City Controller and current candidate for California’s 33rd Congressional District, spoke about carrying the dream into Los Angeles.

A darling Sherlock Holmes skit performed by a group of professional actors preceded the live auction, led by auctioneer Brandon Valdez. The tempting items included a private VIP evening for 50 guests at the OC Cube during the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition, an Hawaiian golf getaway, a GMC Cadillac golf cart, dinner for 12 at Manassero Farms with Chef John Ledbetter, a molecular gastronomy cooking session with Montage Pastry Chef Julie Brown, a stay-cation at Montage, a men’s Corum luxury timepiece, pearl and diamond earrings from Black, Starr & Frost, and, the hot one, a one-year reserved parking space at the OC Cube. Jim Peterson must really like it because he also won it last year! Jim and Sheila Peterson also won the seven-night vacation for 15 people at Chateau St. Philippe in the French Alps for $16,000. Very generous Cube supporters, those Petersons!

There was a real incentive to bid this year in the Fund-A-Need auction, which gave a complimentary pair of $100 Oakley Frogskins Black Sunglasses to the first 100 bidders. Bid cards were flying! I saw one lady bid three different times to get three pairs!

Elizabeth Boyd won the National Medal mystery and dinner for two at a Dinner Detective show, and $360,000 was netted for benefiting science education. By the way, did you know that DiscoveryCube OC remains #1 in attendance per square foot and #3 in educational outreach in the country? Now, isn’t that cool?!

Cool Aside: Pixie Hearn from Cinnabar, Inc, who builds the Cube’s exhibits, said she spent $30 for her outfit (she’s standing alone in a rust/ivory outfit). She had the Victorian gown, bought the corset and top on Amazon and the trim and metal accents at Joanne’s. I was impressed! Photos courtesy of Ann & Rick Chatillon DSC1-01DSC2-01DSC3-01DSC4-01DSC5-01DSC6-01