Thursday, 25 July 2013 15:24

RSVP: Captain, My Captain

By Trina Lucas | Entertainment

CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services opened the doors of the Saratoga Polo Clubhouse to 140 friends for An Unbridled Affair on Monday evening. Honorary chairs Gary and Jennifer Contessa were the hosts with the most, mingling to thank everyone for coming.


Palm Bay International area manager Mark Chisholm set up a Cavit wine bar for attendees to enjoy as they shopped the silent auction of equine art, photographs, jewelry and more. Arriving shortly after the start were former State Senator Roy McDonald and his wife, Angela, Paul and Kate Veitch, Gary Dake, Aimee Taylor, Mike Bucci and Barbara Ruocco. 

Committee member Patty Novo and her husband, Jeff, owners of Crush & Cask Wine & Spirits, had fun watching people take a chance at the ‘Wine Pull.’ A rack displayed more than two dozen wrapped bottles and for $20 each, donors could select one of the mystery wines. Would it be red or white? From Sonoma or Sicily? No matter, the sign promised each was a CAPTAIN’s treasure, having been donated by gala committee members, including the Novo’s.

Artist Tom Myott, who just celebrated the opening of his Hats Off to 150 Years at Silverwood Gallery last Thursday, chatted with event chair Mary Lou Wheeler. Myott created a stunning oil on canvas depicting the historic dead heat of the 2012 Travers race exclusively for the live auction. It was a must-see piece!

Nearby, Chris Lasher and Teri DeSorbo caught up with Avi and Rhoda Freedberg, while Margaret Davenport shared “cheers” with Jonathan Stillman. Amanda VanPelt, with Jason DeWitt, looked perfectly polo in her black and white polka dot dress, and Deborah DePasquale was festive in unbridled red next to her husband, Jim. 

Somehow, Sammy the Bugler manages to be everywhere these days, heralding the start of races and of great dinners. After heeding his trumpeted call, guests moved to the adjacent tent for a fabulous meal served by Old Daley Catering & Events. 

The highlight of the evening was definitely the live auction. Due to a lingering case of laryngitis, Tom Durkin had to cancel his participation as auctioneer at the last minute. Instead, the ever-gracious Contessa’s stepped up to the microphone. They performed flawlessly, and increased auction income by throwing in four additional tours of the Contessa Racing stable with lunch, and four sets of front row seats for the 2014 Belmont Stakes instead of two.  

Noted Robin Zimmerman, CAPTAIN’s Development and Marketing Coordinator, “They are two of the most generous people I know, both with their time and resources.”

It was the luxury villa in Mexico that brought the highest bid, however. Four couples of friends pooled their donations to claim the hideaway for $11,500. Not only will they enjoy a luxury escape, they will do so with a full staff:  house manager, chef, maid and grounds keeper. That is truly a vacation!

In attendance for the bidding excitement were Dr. Gerry Bilinski and his wife, Darlene, Gail and John Berley, Margaret Wells, Tammy and Tom Savino, Carole and Bruce Tanski, Anne and Bill Long, Tina and Steve Byk, Diane and Robert Foody, Mary and Rick Irish, Cot and Anne Campbell, Todd Engel, and State Senator Kathy Marchione with her husband, Frank.

Between the auctions and sponsorship, CAPTAIN net $66,000 from this years’ benefit. The vital funds will help youth and their families navigate the rough waters of poverty, homelessness, violence, academic challenges, family dysfunction, underage drinking and drug use. 

“Thank you so much to new and old friends who supported our gala this year,” stated executive director Sue Malinowski. “We will be able to serve so many more youth and families here in our community due to your generous giving. We look forward to seeing you at An Unbridled Affair 2014!” 

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