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Lois Pope, accepted the Humanitarian Award for Honoree Leo Albert, with Honorary Chairs Hermé deWyman Miro and Suzy Minkoff.  


Lois Pope, accepted the Humanitarian Award for Honoree Leo Albert, with Honorary Chairs Hermé deWyman Miro and Suzy Minkoff.  
Photo by : Studio Palm Beach






Palm Beach, FL  – The Jewels of Life Ball, held February 22 at The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach, was AUSSOME! With a Land Down Under Theme, the Lung Association scored a hit as the hundreds of attendees were dazzled by the brilliant creation that unfolded before them. This beautiful multi-faceted jewel of an event delighted and charmed – proving itself to be anything but ordinary gala fare.


Guests were treated to an exotic array of auction items assembled by auction chair, Marie Pupke, which featured a beautiful piece of Aboriginal art and included gorgeous handbags and jewelry from VanCleef & Arpels, Daniella Ortiz, and Lisa Plume, as well as an array of fabulous items donated by Worth Avenue and Palm Beach area restaurants and merchants. Men were surprised by a rare gala auction find: electronics, cameras, watches and a selection of well-crafted cufflinks. Cocktail bars abounded in the auction room and a sparkling, dazzling ice sculpture in the shape of a kangaroo glimmered and beckoned attendees to imbibe cheekily named martinis made with CooranBong, an Australian premium vodka, showcased at the event. The warm aromas emanating from a bubbling chocolate fountain sponsored by Sandra Hoffman and Fred Meltzer of Hoffman Chocolates further beguiled guests and made a tasty respite during the shopping hour.


Gala chairs Gail Worth, Laura Sherman and Faith Morford led guests into the Grand Ballroom for dinner – where the engaging tune of “The Land Down Under” was beckoning gala-goers to the dance floor. The tone for the evening was fun, fun, Fun! Ken Sharples and Steve Ford of Creations Productions struck the right note for the evening with décor that was earthy and elegant, yet playful.  The Max Band was brilliant and well tuned and played to a packed house and a full dance floor, before a backdrop of lush greenery and colorful CooranBong banners.


The new South Seas décor at the Ritz-Carlton was a sumptuous backdrop for the Land Down Under, and Head Chef, Ryan Artim outdid himself with a creative and elegant Australian dinner, featuring foods spiced with herbs flown in especially for the event.  The Honorable Mrs. Amanda Hodges, Australian Counsel General, was elated by the authenticity of the

hors d’oeurves and plated dinner.


Mrs. Lois Pope honored the organization by accepting the 2008 Humanitarian of the Year Award on behalf of the late Leo Albert, philanthropist and benefactor, for his community leadership and financial support. Her thank you speech was a poignant tribute to Albert, a great man who has contributed so much to this community. Mrs. Pope’s “Semper Fi” will ring in many ears and hearts for days to come. The RUTHIE Award, named for the Association’s gala pioneer, Ruth Granat, was presented to Marc and Laura Sherman, who have demonstrated unwavering commitment to the Lung Association and its mission. The RUTHIE Award seeks to acknowledge young people who make an impact on the community through exceptional service and support to our organization.


Immediately following the award ceremony came a huge surprise -- the unveiling of G’Day Imports gala gifts of CooranBong Australian Vodka. The wait staff at the Ritz-Carlton, with choreography that would be envied on Broadway, entered the ballroom with a flourish… delivering full-sized bottles of CooranBong to each table and every gala attendee.  The presentation was dramatic - a captivating Aussie-flavored voice-over pitched the product to the accompaniment of Aboriginal didgeridoos in a darkened room, which flashed with multi-colored hues as lighting designer Ken Sharples brought up earthy colored spotlights all around. Gala Chairs Gail Worth, Laura Sherman and Faith Morford definitely have a flair for the theatrical and should be congratulated on orchestrating such a tremendous crowd pleaser.


A number of true Aussies were on hand to add an air of realism to the event. Association friends from the Land Down Under, Countess Brigitte von Bulow and The Honorable Mrs. Amanda Hodges, Counsel General of Australia, gave a tremendous amount of guidance and energy to help make an event that rang true, and were recognized for their enthusiasm and kindness.  Michele & Dave Freyder and Laura Reuter of G’Day Imports, underwriting sponsor for the event, participated by hosting the fabulous CooranBong Vodka ice bar – then went above and beyond by giving each gala goer a 750ml bottle of CooranBong Premium vodka. CooranBong is a gluten-free, premium 10x distilled vodka from grapes grown in the Barossa Valley, which also produces some of Australia’s finest wines. G’Day Imports employed The Jewels of Life Ball as a vehicle to rollout and introduce its product to the Palm Beach area – a gala first!  Reaching the correct demographic with quality vodka was an important consideration to G’day Imports and the gala provided the audience and serious palate that they aim to reach with their premium product. 


Escada Boutique’s General Manager, Debra Koch, hosted a fabulous pre-event cocktail party in celebration of the gala, with the assistance of G’Day Imports who supported with a specially concocted “Margaretha Ley” cocktail. Escada generously donated a percentage of sales from the reception to support the gala and the Lung Association’s mission. Koch was delighted with the Ball and eagerly pledged Escada’s support for future events.


Nelly Rhoda, General Manager of the St. John Boutique is hosting an afternoon tea on February 27 at the Worth Avenue store as a salute to the Gala Chairs, Gala Board, and major event sponsors as her way of saying thanks for both their generosity and community commitment.


The American Lung Association of Florida is so very grateful to its Gala Board and Gala and Auction Chairs, Honorary Chairmen Hermé deWyman Miro, Rhoda & David Chase, Leo Albert (in memory), Nancy Sexauer Walsh Foundation, Lorrain & Malcolm Hall, and Suzy Minkoff; sponsors Lawrence and Florence DeGeorge, Peter Kelliher, Hannah & Marvin Kamin, the Richard E. McCready Foundation, G’Day Imports, Creations Productions, and Portada Magazine for their time, effort and support, which made this event a success. The Lung Association also thanks all those who supported the Jewels of Life Ball in any and all ways. 


The word is out – this is THE event to attend. The American Lung Association of Florida has created an expectation of surprise, and it will be well worth attending to see what else they manage to pull out of their magical bag of tricks! For more information

please visit:


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