06 Apr LOIS POPE/LIFE’S 29TH LADY IN RED GALA RAISES OVER $1 MILLION FOR LOIS’ FOOD4KIDS AT PALM BEACH COUNTY FOOD BANK AND PUPS4PATRIOTS AT AMERICAN HUMANE
“SUPER BOWL” OF PALM BEACH PHILANTHROPIC EVENTS FEATURES SUPER ENTERTAINMENT BY PAUL ANKA, RITA RUDNER, PALM BEACH SYMPHONY AND DANNY BECK BAND
Southeast Florida’s “uber philanthropist” Lois Pope may not be NFL “uber quarterback” Tom Brady, but they have one thing in common: They know how to win a “Super Bowl.”
Indeed, just as Brady has won seven NFL titles – six with the New England Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Pope has delivered an astounding 29 consecutive winning “Super Bowls” of philanthropy.
To be sure, the 29th Annual Lady in Red Gala, hosted by Pope and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education) this past Sunday at The Breakers, Palm Beach, featured one “score” after another. But unlike the football world’s championship game, in which there is only one winning team, there were quite a few winners at this year’s Lady in Red.
The completely-sold-out audience of more than 600 Palm Beach and Miami area civic and community leaders, philanthropists, and humanitarians were big winners because they were treated to:
- a fabulous cocktail hour featuring the Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra performing the greatest Broadway show tunes in history;
- a scrumptious “surf-and-turf” meal;
- individual decadent chocolate, ice cream, and gold leaf accented dessert platters;
- dancing to the wide-ranging repertoire of the Danny Beck Band;
- a side-splitting laugh-out-loud comedy set from Las Vegas icon Rita Rudner;
- a truly unforgettable performance by legendary singer-songwriter Paul Anka, who capped his 45-minute set of hits by re-writing the words and singing one of his greatest songs, “My Way,” as a tribute to Pope. Kneeling at the edge of the stage and holding Pope’s hand, Anka crooned:
- “We cheer your 29th year; red dresses here mean more than fashion…while you look great that’s true, this rosy hue stands for compassion. It starts with our Queen of Hearts, hope she imparts, her love galore way. So Lois for you, and all you do, here’s my way, your way…”
But Pope and all the attendees weren’t the only winners on the night. The two biggest winning teams were the Palm Beach County Food Bank and American Humane because the gala raised more than $1 million for two initiatives that have long been beneficiaries of Pope’s and LIFE’s generosity:
- Lois’ Food4Kids at the Food Bank, an endeavor that provides backpacks filled with health foods and nutritious meals to hungry children in the region when they are not in school – on weekends, vacations, holidays, and spring, summer, and winter breaks;
- Pups4Patriots, a multi-pronged program under the aegis of AH and its Lois Pope Center for Military Affairs, through which dogs are rescued, primarily from shelters, provided with about a year of specialized Certified Service Dog Training, and then given to Veterans suffering from PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
Pope, who eschews making long speeches and galas that are filled with such speeches, made brief remarks, noting that when she thinks of the Lady in Red she thinks of it as the “Super Bowl” of fundraising dinners. She noted while that she may be the “quarterback” – although she quickly quipped that unlike Brady, “I am not retiring anytime soon” – she noted that she has a team of “coaches” who put her gala “game plan” into action. Expressing her sincere gratitude, she cited:
- Members of the LIFE Board,
- Media Sponsor South Florida PBS, and its President and CEO, Dolores Fernandez Alonso
- Corporate Ambassadors
- Gianna Bartilson, Sales Manager, Valentino
- Sally Kimball, President and Founder, Ambassador Realty Corporation
- Christiane Ouvier, Boutique Director, Van Cleef & Arpels
- Walter Schwenk, Managing Director and Investment Manager, Wells Fargo
- Fellow Gala Chair Tova Leidesdorf
- Grand Honorary Chair Christine Lynn
- Honorary Chairs Gail Worth and Frank Orenstein
- Co-Chairs Dr. Robin Ganzert and Marti LaTour
- Entertainment Chair Sunny Sessa
- Inspiration Chairs Holly and David Dreman; Nancy Pontius, Ari Rifkin, and Patrick and Milly Park.
And speaking of the Parks, Pope announced that they had called her that morning and surprised her with a $100,000 donation to LIFE in support of the event beneficiaries.
“Of course, if anybody else would like to follow in their footsteps with a gift of their own, I can say without any hesitation that I would gladly and gratefully accept it,” Pope added.
Pope noted that she is already hard at work planning the 30th Annual Lady in Red Gala, which will be held on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17, 2024, at The Breakers. Among the headline entertainment will be Jay Leno, the award-winning comedian and longtime former host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC and current host of the TV shows “Jay Leno’s Garage” on CNBC and “You Bet Your Life” on Fox.
Photo credit by Capehart