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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

RSVP Special Report: Fired Up for Saratoga Hospital!

By | News

The cool white tent on the grounds of Saratoga Casino and Raceway was ablaze with community support on Wednesday, August 1, as hundreds attended Fire and Ice, the 30th Annual Benefit Auction for Saratoga Hospital. This is one of the most-anticipated events of the summer, drawing an eclectic crowd of all ages and professions with one common interest, the hospital. So shortly after 6 p.m., the festivities were in full swing!


Saratoga Springs chairwomen Mylea Aldrich and Colleen Carlson welcomed guests against the backdrop of a storybook playhouse donated by Bella Home Builders. (The custom-built cottage later raised $16,000 in the live auction.) Women sizzled in red and glistened in blue, sipping wine and champagne sponsored by Saratoga Eagle. The men chilled in light summer attire, enjoying colorful specialty cocktails, courtesy of Ciroc, Diageo North America and Empire Merchants North.

Michael Panza and his team at Fine Affairs had created a chilly scene with oversized icicles hanging from the snowflake-lit tent. In the Arctic circle, auction action was hot, as opening bids were placed on close to 150 silent packages and items. Seen shopping were committee member Michele Funiciello with her husband, Dieter, and sister, Dee Densmore-D’Amico. Matt and Lisa Gabryshak, Margie Rotchford, Steve and Diana Kakaty, Dr. Joy Lucas and Tina Nigro also perused the descriptions for good buys.

Terry Lee, Executive Director of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation, and event committee members, including Rebecca Beers, Melanie Dallas, Diane Lloyd, Kristie Roohan and Heather Straughter, greeted friends, thanking many for their sponsorship. Among the patrons were Turbine Services, Jim LaVigne and Mary Gavin, Logic Technology, Millennium Medical Imaging, Mayor Scott Johnson and his wife, Julie, and Jerry and Marcia MacDonald, who, year after year, generously underwrite the printing costs for the benefit invitation and 100-page color program. Angelo Calbone, President and CEO of Saratoga Hospital, also circulated with his wife, Kate, expressing their appreciation.

The frosty auction space led to a glowing firestorm of food where many dined on shrimp cocktail and crab claws, a nice complement to the paella, Asian salmon, coconut chicken and carved tenderloin. Tasting the delicious creations from Executive Chef Shawn Nash were Chris and Kathy Kirvin, Brendan Flanigan, Annie and John Krasnicki, Molly Brindle, John Witt, Kyle Kordich, John and Beth LaRow, Kim and Steve Burton, Kate Jarosh and Mary Solomons (happy to kick back after her own successful Polo by Twilight fundraiser the night before).

At 7 p.m., the well-known call of Fasig-Tipton’s auctioneers brought attention to the live auction. The entertainment had begun, and those with a front-row seat included Vince and Patty Riggi, Sonny and Julie Bonacio, Jasper and Beth Alexander and Frankie and Ann Marie Flores. Others spotted were Mike and Kate Naughton, Soula and Spiro Tsitos, Mary Flaherty, Anne O’Toole, and Dr. Marty Breen with his wife, Katie.

Excitement built quickly with a bidding ‘war’ as John Hendrickson and Marylou Whitney playfully sparred with Ron and Michele Riggi, ultimately resulting in the announcement of each couple’s generous gift to the hospital’s new Community Health Resource Center: $101,000 from the Hendrickson’s and $75,000 from the Riggi’s.

The mood was now set for fast and furious bidding, and even a pop-up rainstorm couldn’t dampen spirits. Dr. Gregory Tillou, and his wife, Francesca, were among the high bidders, with Jim Towne, Eileen Guarino and Natalie Sillery, who won a Kentucky bluegrass weekend at the Margaux Horse Farm. Later, Melissa Zieker congratulated and thanked Tom Qualtere for his winning bid on Lasik eye surgery from Zieker Eye Ophthalmology.

Despite the formal close of the event being announced at 9 p.m., attendees lingered, remiss to leave the fun behind. Luckily, Elizabeth Macy and her talented crew at Image Photo & Events captured Fire and Ice on film, providing souvenir snapshots with every “good night.” And once again, the evening was a hot success for Saratoga Hospital, raising a very cool $395,000. All proceeds will support the Community Health Resource Center at 24 Hamilton Street, serving the under- and uninsured. The center will offer primary care, mental health and dental care, and the hospital will welcome other non-profit organizations with similar clientele to provide their program services onsite too. To learn more, visit www.saratogahospital.org.

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