EUNICE AND SARGENT Shriver opened the doors of their stately old home in Potomac last weekend for the eighth annual Best Buddies' "Art for the Heart Ball." Best Buddies was %J organized by their son Anthony while he was a student at Georgetown University. In a nutshell, the group pairs high-school students, college students and other individuals in the corporate and civic communities with a mentally retarded person in the hopes of creating a lasting, one-on-one friendship.
The black-tie fund-raiser dinner attracted more than 500 people, who paid $275 a ticket to hobnob with the Shrivers et al. and for a chance to win some of the silent and live auction items. As I watched for more than an hour while the Shrivers stood in a receiving line with Anthony and his wife, Alina, I couldn't help but think about what nice parents they are. It was a great example of what parents will do for their children.
Some of the better-known guests at the party were Lucky Vanous, the absolutely divine-looking man who became famous as the construction worker in the Diet Coke lunch-break commercial; Thora Birch, a child actress who's starred in the movies "Clear and Present Danger," "Patriot Games" and "Alaska"; Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala; Anthony's brother, Mark, who's in the Maryland House of Delegates, and his wife, Jeanne; U.S. Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor; John Hendricks, founder and CEO of Discovery Communications; Ted Leonsis, president of America Online Services; Ellie Trueman, president of Trueman Communications Group; Khrystyne Haje, an actress in the television series "Head of the Class"; Guen and Mike Wajsgras, he works for LCI telephone company; and Baltimore attorney Shale Stiller and his wife, Judge Ellen Heller.
There were about 125 live and silent auction objects, which included hard-to-get items like a boxing glove signed by Muhammad Ali, lunch with Michael Jordan, a chance to be a fictitious character in an Art Buchwald column and two Supreme Court slip opinions signed by Justice William J. Brennan. By the way, a "slip opinion" is the full text of a printed Supreme Court opinion, but in a little booklet form.
There was lots of excitement during the live auction, with a first edition of the magazine George bringing mega bucks, as did a private tour of the Kennedy Library with Eunice Shriver. The latter stirred so much interest that all three people who bid the price up to $11,000 were declared winners, and the net was a walloping $33,000. It's guess-timated that this year's event raised $400,000 for Best Buddies.
I chatted with Olympic gold-medal winner Carl Lewis, a Best Buddies board member, who was at the party signing copies of "One More Lap" with Jeffrey Marx, who wrote the book about Lewis. They were joined later by neo-pop artist Romero Britto, who autographed posters he designed featuring the Olympian.
The poster wasn't Britto's only artwork at the party. Anthony wore a bow-tie and cummerbund designed by Britto, and Best Buddies PR man Mark Wylie wore a handsome Britto vest. I'm told Carol Lewis, who accompanied her brother, Carl, to the party is an NBC sportscaster and a World Games medal winner && in track.
Guests made their way to a lovely white tent off the back of the house and dined on chicken piccata, potatoes au gratin, baby carrots, salad, creme brule and pear tarts, prepared to perfection by Windows Caterers. Washington television personality Paul Berry was emcee of the dinner festivities, which included a spectacular performance by the Temptations, featuring Dennis Edwards; an acrobatic show by the Ashton Family; and an amazing display by Mat Plendl, world champ hula hooper.
Nearly 200 people celebrated the 16th anniversary of the African Art Museum of Maryland in several Ryland Homes models in the Trails at Woodlot in Columbia. His Excellency Franklin A. Sonn, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa, was given the prestigious Akua'ba Award as well as proclamations from Gov. Parris Glendening and the Howard County Council.
On hand for the festivities were Doris Ligon, founder of the African Art Museum, and ambassadors from Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Botswana.
I stopped by the Valley Inn for dinner recently and to my surprise, couldn't get a table at the bar. It was filled with fans of Bill Eliot, who plays a sweet clarinet, and Walt Marquardt, who accompanies him on electronic piano. They play Thursdays from 7 p.m. till 10 p.m. and have built up quite a following.
Some people have been known to get so carried away they turn into Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, while others, like Valley Inn owner Bud Hatfield and regular customer Ned Griffith, turn into Frank Sinatra crooners ...
Doug Hanks, owner of Douglas Hanks Real Estate in Easton, is the author of "Driven by the Stars," a story about the life of Bahamian sailor Durwood Knowles, who won an Olympic gold medal in sailing. The relationship they formed while Hanks was ++ writing the book prompted Knowles to invite Hanks and his wife, Xan, to Nassau in the Bahamas recently for a reception to celebrate Knowles' knighthood. He was knighted in July at Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Hanks, His Excellency Gov. General Orville Tunquest and former Gov. General Sir Gerald Cash were the only people asked to speak at the party, which was held at the Nassau Yacht Club.
Time is running short. If you haven't already, please let me know about November and December parties and galas. In a calendar coming soon, I would like to make readers aware of Maryland events leading up to the holidays.
Please send your press releases to me at 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or send me a fax at (410) 783-2519. Be sure to include address, date, time, attire, cost and a phone number for people to call in case they have questions.
Pub Date: 10/13/96