It was an evening of firsts at "Reaching for the Stars!" While this wasn't the first benefit gala for Doctors Across the Americas, it was the first under the nonprofit's new name. Founded in 1996 as Hands Across the Americas, the organization has just changed its name to better reflect its purpose - supporting U.S. doctors in volunteer missions in Central and South America with medicine, medical equipment and supplies.
Then, there was the size of this party - another first.
"There are 400 people that are going to be here tonight. It's our largest crowd and it's great," said co-founder Steve Diamond, as he surveyed the busy ballroom at the Valley Mansion.
"I am so excited and delighted that this organization is growing every year. Getting bigger means being able to help more people," said his wife, and the group's co-founder, Jennifer Diamond.
Which brings us to yet another first - the locale itself. For most guests, this was the first time they had set foot in the brand, new Cockeysville catering hall.
"It's like it grew out of Cockeysville dirt. It's a wonderful place," said Courtney Wilson, B&O; Railroad Museum executive director, marveling as he and his wife, Leslie, scanned the room.
Learning about the organization was also a first for many of the evening's guests.
"It's amazing to me that the doctors do volunteer their time and they actually pay for their own way to get down [on their medical missions]," said honoree Edward St. John.
"I was really unaware of just what spectacular work they do. I'm so impressed. I might participate now," said Harbor Hospital orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Carbone, as his wife, Donna, nodded in agreement.
A Drink With Laura Gamble
Laura Gamble, 44, has been president of Bank of America Maryland for the past six years. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, Rob Gillison, a vice president at Martek Biosciences Inc., and their two children.
You don't talk publicly about your family.
It's more about being a little more protective. I had to explain at the kids' school that they can't be photographed. The school [has] incorporated that and fully understands.
Does that kind of security have a big impact on your family?
No. Probably the biggest impact on my family life is the traveling and being out in the evening for dinner and functions. That's a fair number of my weekdays. So, I try to manage it.
Does your husband pick up the slack?
He does. I have a very supportive family, especially with a two-career couple. You could not have this type of role if you didn't have a supportive spouse. And good friends. ... It's all about choices. People say, "Oh, you really have it all." I think that's a fallacy. I think you can have what's most important to you. But I don't believe you can have it all, because - to me - it's a series of compromises. You have to make choices. You can't focus intensely on your career. You can't intensely focus on your family. And have a house that's right out of Architectural Digest. And be a black belt in karate. So, for me, I'll have hobbies when I retire and my home is definitely not Architectural Digest.