It was a "wonderful, amazing, beautiful evening the Anderson House. There aren't enough adjectives, as you can see!", writes Mrs. Ellen Batzdorf in an expression of thanks after attending the CSF Night of Light Children's Gala on November 13. This magical evening included a royal guest list, international ambassadors, world-class physicians who treat Chiari and syringomyelia, and 100 philanthropic guests from around the world.
The evening began with a cocktail hour in The Olmsted Gallery complete with champagne, caviar, and docents to answer questions about the exquisite art and tapestries. The elegant music of the string quartet filled the room while guests mingled with honored patrons and friends. Famous photographer, Gay Cioffi captured the evening's festivities on film.
The doors opened to a grand marble staircase as a piper beckoned the 100 guests to enter the formal dining area for dinner. Susan Gage Caterers did a magnificent job with the delicious dinner and impeccable service. Cape Classics generously donated the wine for the event and Robert Bradshaw, Cape Classics Regional Manager, introduced the wines at dinner. Dr. Fraser Henderson welcomed the guests and introduced the Very Reverend Samuel Lloyd, Dean of the National Cathedral, to lead the invocation.
Paul Farrell, Chairman of CSF, presented the CSF vision and mission while guests enjoyed the butternut squash soup. Guest artists Michael Sheppard on piano and Emil Chudnovsky on violin were introduced by Dr. Alexander Mark and captivated the room with their extraordinary performance of a beautiful sonata.
Mackenzie Mathis, a beautiful young Chiari patient, brought the guests to tears as she spoke of her family's struggles living with Chiari. Her poise and beautiful articulation of their story demonstrated maturity beyond her years. Dr. Ulrich Batzdorf gave an eloquent toast to patients and spoke about the work and mission of CSF.
While enjoying delicious pheasant, guests were treated to a heartwarming performance by soprano, Meghan McCall and composer/pianist, Marcos Galvany. Entering from the balcony above the dining room, her "bell-like clarity" enveloped the room with an angelic treatment of Marcos' beautiful aria, "The Kingdom of My Joy", from his opera "Oh My Son."
The decadent chocolate opera cake was served with a moving testimonial given by Ellen Icochea, a patient who lived for 35 years in pain and finally received a proper diagnosis and treatment of Chiari malformation. Dorothy Poppe, CSF's Executive Director, presented the Patron Awards to Lord Nicholas, 14th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, Lord and Lady Malloch-Brown, The Honorable Christopher Burnham, and Mr. Randy Theken. A special award was presented to Dr. and Mrs. Fraser Henderson for their extraordinary support and work to make this Gala possible.
The final toast was given by Scott Gregerson, VP of Business Affairs for Doctors Community Hospital, along with 100 year old port, which was served with cheese and fruit.
CSF had many people underwrite this event in donations and sponsorships. We are very grateful for their time, treasure and talent!
A very special thank you goes to the Gala Steering Committee, Trish Malloch-Brown, Dorothy Poppe, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Gregerson, and Paul Farrell.