Yvonne Maria Schaefer
official website

The Lois Pope Life Foundation gala, Mar-a-Lago, West Palm Beach (12/04/2010)

 

Palm Beach, FL -- Supporters of LIFE were transported to the 5th Dimension as they traveled through a glittering tunnel into the grand ballroom at the Mar a Lago Club on Saturday, December 4 for the 17th Annual "Lady in Red" Gala.

Event designer Bruce Sutka transformed the ballroom with golden hot air balloons ready to take guests up, up and away to raise money for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. Located on a 2.4-acre triangular site across from the U.S. Botanic Garden and in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, the Memorial will be the nation's first public tribute to the over the three million living disabled American veterans, including the 210,000 living in Florida, and the countless hundreds of thousands who have died.

This much anticipated start of the Palm Beach social season brought out socialites, celebrities, and dignitaries in support of this very worthy cause. One of the most touching moments of the evening came as guests watched a video about Private First Class Channing Moss, who was hit by a live rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. The short video, which was put together by the Military Times, included actual footage of the surgery where Dr. John Oh, a Korean immigrant who became a naturalized citizen and went to West Point , removed the live round with the help of volunteers and a member of the EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) team. Moss has undergone six operations but is doing well at home in Gainesville , GA. The room remained silent at this stark reminder of the true danger these brave young men and women face each and every day defending our freedoms, our way of life and each other.

Following the video Bobby Barrera, chairman of the Disabled American Veterans took the stage, noting how moved he was by the unconditional heroism demonstrated by Private First Class Channing and those who saved him. He went on to tell of his own story, when on his tour of duty in Vietnam a 500 pound bomb exploded beneath the armored personnel carrier he was in. The explosion left Barrera with serious facial deformity, the loss of his right hand at his wrist and his left arm at his shoulder. Yet rather than give up in the face of adversity, Barrera, like so many other American heroes, went on to achieve great success, earning his bachelor's degree and enjoying a long career as a teacher and a juvenile probation counselor. He went on to say "It is my hope and prayer that PFC Channing, and all disabled American Veterans, are never marginalized or forgotten by the nation we have so proudly served."

Not a dry eye was left in the room as Barrera thanked Lois Pope for her contributions to the community of Disabled Veterans, "My personal gratitude, and that of all disabled veterans, goes to my dear friend and your host, Lois Pope. For more than 12 years, she has been the guiding force in the campaign to erect this memorial. We are also grateful that she has shared her dream - our dream - with you. Over the past five years, the "Lady In Red" Galas have contributed $2,000,000 to the Memorial. Lois, you are an inspiration for all disabled veterans as you carry our torch of bright with hope and expectations. May your beautiful light continue to shine for many, many years to come. For without you, this dream would be just that--a dream. Lois, you have touched my heart. You have taken my hand and softly whispered. 'I will never forget your sacrifices.' "

Among those in attendance at this stellar event were Lois Pope, Paul David Pope, Ari Rifkin, Maria Pope-Kessel, Norma and Simon Fireman, Liz & Jeff Bateman, Veronica and Alexis Mersentes, Donald Trump, Patrick Park, Nathalie Fernandez, Federico Castelluccio, Yvonne Maria Schaefer,  Senator Dave Aronberg, Art Wilson, Walter Schwenk, Dennis Joyner, Michele and Howard Kessler, Gail Worth, Terry & Joe Mendozza, Amy and Andrew Beller, Herme de Wyman Miro, Toni and Robert Kramer, Sunny and Leonard Sessa, Sy Ziv and Heidi Klein, Mary and Mark Freitas, Diana and Cory Valentine, Hayden Hosford, Dr. Herbert Gould, and Rhoda and David Chase.

Lois Pope, Paul David Pope and Ari Rifkin were Chairmen, while Liz and Jeff Bateman served as Co-chairmen. Norma and Simon Fireman were Honorary Chairmen with Veronica and Alexis Mersentes as Grand Honorees.

"I am so grateful to all of our supporters and especially to my incredible co-chairmen Ari Rifkin and Paul David Pope," said Lois Pope. "Without them we would not have come so far in recognizing our unsung heroes, America's disabled veterans. What a wonderful night we had while raising funds to create this memorial that will ensure the sacrifices of our disabled veterans will always be remembered, while educating future generations about the human cost of war."

2010 "Lady in Red" Gala Star Ruby Corporate Benefactors were TIFFANY & CO., NETJETS, BRAMAN MOTOCARS & WELLS FARGO ADVISORS. LIFE's steadfast supporter, Tiffany & Co provided fabulous gifts and prizes for the lucky guests of the "Lady in Red". In addition to the glamorous Tiffany Wall of LIFE, Tiffany & Co. provided an exquisite porcelain box hand-painted with scenes of New York City for each of the ladies to take home. The gentlemen were each given a copy of Paul David Pope's book The Deeds of My Fathers and each guest received the "time of their LIFE" with a dazzling ruby red LIFE watch!

Dick Robinson and Federico Castelluccio were the debonair emcees of the live auction, for which Braman Motorcars generously donated a racy red convertible Mini Cooper which was won by the very lucky Michael Wang. New this year to LIFE's roster of generous benefactors was NETJETS, who donated eight hours of flight time aboard a Citation Sovereign; this incredible item was won by Paul David Pope. Another amazing live auction item was a lovely Hana Stern Diamond & Jewelry Designs 18K White gold and diamond necklace and earrings set which was won by James Whelan. Co-Chair Ari Rifkin was the lucky winner who went home with the Nina Collection pearl necklace

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