Equest CEO Lili Kellogg welcomed everyone to Stanley Korshak on Wednesday, February 12, by saying, “Outside it’s a little grey, but in here, spirits are high!” The occasion was to kick off the big 2020 Equest Gala fundraiser benefiting the equine-assisted-therapy nonprofit. Here’s a report from the field:
Two miniature horses, an oversized Oscar award, and more than 100 guests all under one roof. It could only be the kick-off party at Stanley Korshak for Equest’s 2020 Gala, An Evening in Old Hollywood.
Honorary Co-Chairs Lynn McBee (sans husband/Co-Chair Allan McBee) and Chair Elizabeth Fischer greeted guests, who were enjoying passed appetizers from Sixty Vines, tastings from The Macallan Scotch Whisky bar, the evening’s signature Old Hollywood martini, champagne, and other adult beverages. Attendees could also be found shopping Stanley Korshak’s luxury apparel and accessories, as 15 percent of the evening’s proceeds were donated to Equest.
Annie and Teal Griffeth, who served as the 2019 Equest Gala Co-Chairs and raised a record amount, were in cheerleader mode to support the incoming chair. Teal is the son of Louise Griffeth, founder of Equest’s Women’s Auxiliary and last year’s recipient of Equest’s Founder’s Award. Coincidentally, while Lynn first learned about Equest 16 years ago when she was president of Junior League, it was Louise who took her under her Pegasus wing and got her involved with the equestrian nonprofit.
At one point in the evening, Lili gathered the supporters to announce a new addition to the year’s upcoming gala, Equest’s Leading Ladies. The group of five women will help serve as hosts and ambassadors to the Gala. The Leading Ladies, dramatically dressed and styled in Old Hollywood glamour by Stanley Korshak, include Annie Griffeth; former equestrian Katherine Wyker, who is a new member of the Equest board of directors and also serves as Gala Auction Chair; equestrian and frequent Equest volunteer Lucy Bannon; as well as Elizabeth and Lynn. Outfitted in a dress by British designer Edeline Lee, Lynn revealed that this would be her second time to serve as the Equest Gala’s honorary co-chair.
Other notable attendees were Equest Chairman of the Board Lane Cates, Melinda and Mark Knowles, Nancy and Ron Natinsky, Katie Cox and Tricia Sims.
Hearts then melted as Caitlin Laughlin and her 5-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Laughlin, an Equest client diagnosed with cerebral palsy, addressed the supporters. Caitlin talked about the impact Equest has had on her daughter’s life, getting tearful as she proudly announced that earlier that very day Elizabeth had stood and walked to her physical therapist for the first time without her walker.
Equest’s Gala is its largest fundraiser. For 39 years, Equest has enhanced the quality of life for children and adults with diverse needs by bringing hope and healing through equine-assisted activities and therapies. The 2020 Gala, An Evening in Old Hollywood, will be held on Saturday, April 25, at the Hyatt Regency’s Landmark Ballroom. The classic Hollywood-themed affair will include a champagne reception, a seated dinner, much-desired live and silent auction items, and entertainment featuring the 11-piece Walton Stout Band of the Jordan Kahn Group and much more. Tables (of 10) are available to purchase starting at $5,000 at www.equest.org/gala.
* Photo credit: Bob Manzano