American Cancer Society: Desert spirit award

American Cancer Society: Desert spirit award

Swaddle this year’s award for “Best Party of the Year” in bubble wrap and send it to the American Cancer Society now – because they are a shoe-in for the award. The 27th Desert Spirit Food and Wine Soiree for the American Cancer Society at Dick Heckmann’s lovely equestrian estate was a bargain at $600 per couple.  Among the supporters and sponsors were Harold MatznerSteve GarveyCharissa FarleyBobby Eakes and Jennell and Rod (Mr.Buzz Box) Vandenbos. Everyone involved with the event was delighted as almost 400 guests entered the  festive soiree, greeted by cocktails and appetizers.  It seemed clear that long time desert residents AndrewMelissa and Diane NeidermanAlan Abell,Dr. Ava Mahapatra and Dr. Gary Annunziata were partial to this charity.

Entertainment and silent and live auctions (that raised about $200,000 net) awaited guests upon entrance. The crowd was led to what appeared to be polo fields of perfectly manicured grass with tables, a multitude of tents and 2 large video screens.  Some notables in the crowd were Tristan and Teresa RogersPatti GribowSteve GarveyDr. Ava Mahapatra and Elaine Church and Jeff Jones.

Clearly there was heartwarming support for one of the valleys favorite charities. TV personality  Karen Devine welcomed the guests and Chris Long handled the auctioneer duties. This soiree clearly coddled those who enjoyed the vast variety of foods from 15 snazzy restaurants serving elegant, savory delectable dishes.

Food & fans

From left to right: Tanya Martin, DeAnn Lubell-Ames,

From left to right: Tanya Martin, DeAnn Lubell-Ames, Diane Neiderman, Heidi Ames, Christian Ames. (Photo: Marc Glassman/Special to The Desert Sun)


Chef  Dru Davis of Catalan presented delicious Paella adjacent to tents for Balisage Bistro, Cliffhouse, El Mirasol, Hyatt’s Lantana, Kaiser Grille, Adobe Grill, New Leaf Catering, Pacifica, Rio Azul, Roy’s, Smoking Burgers and Wally’s. If you had room left over there were tents for Koffi and a multitude of over the top desserts from Over the Rainbow Desserts.

Chairs Kim Waltrip and Renae Madore presented Tom Davis “The Celebration of Life” Award and Karen Devine oversaw the Van Patten Family’s  “Humanitarian Award”. Lastly Linda Gray received “The Inspiration Award” from Tristan Rogers.

The big screens showed memoriam video tributes of desert favorites, Lee Ames and Gloria Greer.

After the videos, DeAnn Lubell-AmesTanya Martin and Christian and Heidi Ames along with Norma and Ann Greer and the Desirae Cechin family, all accepted tributes for their loved ones.

American Cancer Society: Desert spirit award 1

Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade. (Photo: Marc Glassman/Special to The Desert Sun)


All “Cancer Survivors” were invited to the dance floor to be recognized and to everyone’s surprise 50 came forward to a standing ovation. Most of us had many friends stepping forward who survived Cancer without our knowing of their challenge. Desert Sun publisher Mark Winkler, earlier stated “As a cancer survivor, I can attest to the importance of good doctors, positive attitude and unwavering resolve. These are elements the ACS fosters in their everyday mission.”

If guests expected to be spoiled, they were not disappointed. Among those leaving this party with smiling faces were Debbie LeeAlexanda MiklosovaScott Chapman. and Stephanie and Dennis GreeneMitch Blulmberg had a smile on his face arriving and departing, but maybe it was because he was squiring Jenny Jones and Cari Sudmeier

For more information: Julie Mignogna: (760)568-2691 or visit