When we were asked to participate in the Justin Timberlake-Shriners Open Golf Tournament at TPC Summerlin, we knew it would represent more than just donating a single piece of art to a charity and calling it a day.
But, what we didn’t know is what a deeply touching experience it would be.
Kick Off Your Heels was an event designed to support the week long festivities at the Summerlin TPC funraiser for the Shriner’s Childrens Hospitals. The event showcased three hundred talented Las Vegas women and featured lunch and a fundraising auction.The generosity of donors is what enables Shriners Hospitals for Children® to deliver life-changing medical care without placing burden on the families of their young patients. There are many ways to give, from participating in one of their many fundraising events throughout the year, to creating a plan for giving. No matter how large or small, every gift to Shriners Hospitals for Children makes a difference in the life of a child.
That said, we were honored to be invited and made it a point of donating one of our most popular prints, Villa Fleurie. A stunning pictoral of Alsace Lorraine photographed one September afternoon, it is a very lyrical piece featuring a village path lined with spectacular flowers. Perfect for a women’s luncheon, we thought.
We arrived early to the golf course. The landscape was dotted with golfers playing, spectators watching, people walking up the hill to the tents and literally hundreds of volunteers. Golf carts whizzed in and out of the crowd, carrying celebrities and officials here and there. It was a hike up the hill to the 17th hole where the event was to be held. Lucky for us, some jovial shriners in a golf cart swooped us up and delivered us to the top.
The white tent literally glistened in the sun, it’s air conditioned interior a pleasant respite from the heat outside. Inside, there was a flurry of activity as volunteers put the finishing touches on this magical setting. Bottles clinked at the bar, ice buckets were filled, and flower arrangements seemed to float across the room,headed for tables. Volunteers made last minute adjustments to pristine white tables for ten and waitresses began greeting guests as they arrived, offering lemonade from a tray. There was no mistake that this was where the party was!
We sat up the print we had donated, the fabulous Villa Fleurie. Struggling to lift it, we attracted the attention of two Shriners who helped us hoist it up and position it on a ledge where it could be seen by all. Striking, it literally commanded the room and gathered a crowd of admirers. We chatted with so many interested people, including a three year old girl who was being feted at the luncheon. She had been a Shriner’s patient since birth. Many of the guests shared their experiences with us and we were happy to hear their stories about the Shriners, their trips to Europe and also to answer questions about the William Carr Gallery and our amazing collection of fine art photography at the William Carr Gallery.
Waiters were still passing lemonade, both “hard” with a spiced liquor and regular. We opted for the regular, not wanting to end up under the table rather than at it! Lunch was announced and featured a specially designed menu from Buca Di Beppo.
First, an amazing Antipasti of mozzarella caprese. Vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh mozzarella mingled in a drizzle of basel olive oil and chopped basil leaves.
Next, insalata made of fresh green apples, spiced walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese tossed with fresh lettuce.
Our main course was a delicious oven roasted salmon with pesto cream sauce,pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.
The salmon was complimented by Gnocchi al Telefono. These delicious potato dumplings tossed in garlic marinara with a hint of cream.
The restaurant had also created a special dessert menu that featured mini versions of well known pastries like cannoli, mini rum cake and Italian cookies.
Kudos to the TCP Summerlin staff, Bucca Di Beppo, the PGA staff and the Shriners for creating this magnificent event that gives so much to so many children!
All the while people were eating, others were perusing the silent auction. I had occasion to chat with many of the guests all during the luncheon. Many had been to France and recognized the charm of Alsace. Definitely a standout in any show, Villa Fleurie simply glowed in the afternoon sunlight.
While I was standing by the photo, a beautiful young woman and her husband came up. She began to share with me the story of her son, a recent patient at Shriners Hospital. Her story was heart breaking. But her hope was courageous. Her young son, Ryan, had been the victim of a swimming pool accident. Now, four years old, he was on the road to recovery. It was a touching story of sadness and triumph. Just as she was finishing, it was tme for speeches and the silent auction concluded.
Mayor Goodman was introduced by news journalist, Kim Wagner. She told the story of her romance with Oscar, her marriage and of the early years in Las Vegas. I noticed more and more people partaking of that lemonade on that hot afternoon. Finally, with her speech at an end, the winners of the silent auction were called.
I was amazed to find that the young woman I had been talking to, the mother of Ryan, was the winner of Villa Fleurie! She purchased it for a thousand dollars more than the value listed on the auction sheet. I was overwhelmed. She said that she and her husband had taken their son to France and this was an amazing sentimental piece that they simply had to have in their collection.
I was touched.
Villa Fleurie was loaded into the back of a Corvette and I saw it drive down the hill,on it’s way to a new home.
We headed out ourselves in the late afternoon sun….down the hill and past the course, speckled now with just a few remaining golfers.