Some 350 people packed the Marriott Waterfront hotel's mezzanine for "Wishes, Dreams & Imagination," the sixth-annual fundraising party for Dyslexia Tutoring Program, with almost everyone receiving a personal welcome from the organization's CEO, Marcy K. Kolodny.
Sure, there were lots of things to eat and drink and plenty of people to see. But for many guests, the cause was a personal one.
"Being dyslexic myself, having worked at this organization when I dropped out of college ... I've been incredibly fortunate that I have had the help and learned to read," said board member David Berg.
"He's living proof the programs work," added Parker Rockefeller, Living Classrooms Foundation senior vice president.
It seemed everyone had a story. Provident Bank relationship manager Margie Englert, Kali's Court/Mezze/Meli owners Karen Patten and Vasilios Keramides, and Wil Sirota, chairman of Duane Morris LLP's Baltimore office, spoke of people who have been affected by learning disorders.
Even the evening's honoree, Baltimore Life chairman, president and CEO John Pearson, had an intimate connection. He and wife Christine Pearson became involved in the organization years ago when their son was diagnosed with learning disabilities.
"This very personal, yes," said Christine Pearson, a former board member.
No more so than for Steven McClain, 15, one of Dyslexia Tutoring Program's clients.
"Without this, I'd probably be going to a lower-ranked school instead of Poly," he said.
I spy revelry at Bond film debut Grasmick. Lou Grasmick. It may have been the Baltimore premiere of the new James Bond movie, but the lumber lord was the man of the hour. He and bakery king/developer John Paterakis threw quite the event. A few hundred of their closest friends first assembled at the Marriott Waterfront to nosh on hors d'oeuvres and, perhaps, go for a beverage that was "shaken, not stirred."
Every "somebody" seemed to be there, mingling below human "statues" of gold-painted, bikini-clad Bond girls on pedestals. Meanwhile, Lou was busy making sure the event kept moving along. Like across the street to Landmark Theatres. Yours truly did the red carpet interviews, which were projected onto the theater screens and included such pithy questions as, "What are you wearing?" and "Who's your favorite Bond?" The answers? A good number said Sean Connery and Daniel Craig (my fave!). The overwhelming response from most women? Pierce Brosnan.
Across the Globe If you watched election night on TV, chances are you saw the live video of people celebrating in the town in Kenya where President-elect Barack Obama's family came from. Bet you didn't know a guy from Baltimore was in that crowd.
Danny Feikin is the son of Maryland Public Television's Rhea Feikin. He and his wife, Mary, are physicians and have been living in Kisumu, Kenya, for the past four years. Over the years, they've become friends with Sarah Obama, the stepmother of our president-elect's late father.
Rhea says Sarah invited her son and daughter-in-law to spend election night with her. But by the time they got there, the streets were full of people and security had closed off her house. So, Danny and Mary found themselves surrounded by jubilant townspeople and news cameras. Rhea says he told her that being surrounded by all that joy was one of the most remarkable experiences of his life.