Wednesday, September 2 , 2015, 1:47 pm | Partly Cloudy 77.0º




Dream Foundation Launches a Celebration of Dreams

Arcady Pavilion gathering helps fuel excitement for Nov. 16 gala at Bacara Resort & Spa

Dream Foundation founder and president Thomas W. Rollerson with Celebration of Dreams chairwomen Mireille Noone, Bui Simon and Jelinda DeVorzon, and homeowner Alice Willfong, second from right.

Dream Foundation founder and president Thomas W. Rollerson with Celebration of Dreams chairwomen Mireille Noone, Bui Simon and Jelinda DeVorzon, and homeowner Alice Willfong, second from right.  (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety |

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery.]

The Arcady Pavilion in Montecito was the setting for the launch event for the 11th annual Dream Foundation Celebration of Dreams honoring Dream Makers Circle members and past gala supporters. The launch was a preview for the Nov. 16 gala at Bacara Resort & Spa.

Guests parked at Montecito Covenant Church, boarding shuttles to head through the gates of one of Montecito’s most historic properties for the private event hosted by Jelinda DeVorzon, Mireille Noone and Bui Simon for gala underwriters, as well as two of the gala’s premier sponsors, Andy Puzder, president and CEO of CKE Restaurants and Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree.

This magnificent property was originally a music pavilion for organ concerts and the former estate of George Owen Knapp, the founder of Union Carbide Corp. Built by society architect Russell Ray, the residence features formal walled sunken gardens and stone fountains over four acres with 200-year-old treesm breathtaking mountain views and a serene setting of garden terraces and ponds. Large iron entrance gates set between classic Roman columns framed a rectangular motor court filled with luxurious Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles and a long red carpet.

A cocktail reception and silent auction opened the evening before a welcome program and inspiring messages. Dream Foundation president Thomas W. Rollerson addressed the guests, pointing out the significance of family and the inspiring support of the local community.

“I’m reminded every time I come to an event it’s like family,” he said. “Every single one of you are the thread of the fabric that allows us to wrap our families in love. And that’s what we do every day.

“This week I brought a sister to her brother before he died. We brought knitting tools to a woman who wanted to knit a blanket for her nephew before he passed away. We have another woman who just wanted groceries here in Santa Barbara.”

Founded by Rollerson in 1994, the Dream Foundation is the largest nonprofit organization making dreams come true for terminally ill adults. The organization services more than 2,000 dreams per year, providing closure and lasting memories with loved ones and family members.

Special guest Jill Valladares, mother of past dream recipient Noelle, spoke of her daughter’s fight with terminal illness during a grueling bout with chemotherapy treatments and two bone-marrow transplants. While holding the pair of shoes given to her daughter by her favorite singer, Lady Gaga, Jill spoke of the huge emotional lift that the Dream Foundation was able to offer her daughter.

“When we got the news that the Dream Foundation was going to make Noel’s dream a reality she was so excited,” Valladares said. “She beamed, she glowed, her energy level increased, she was just on top of the world.

“During Noel’s conversation with Lady Gaga, she told Lady Gaga that one thing that makes her feel good on a daily basis is to look good on the outside to help her have positive feelings on the inside. And, then, Lady Gaga jumped up and went to her dressing room and came back with these shoes, and Noel was so excited. On one shoe she said, ‘I love you, Noel. These are your chemo shoes. You wear these. You are beautiful. You’re a superstar.’”

A live auction by auctioneer Grant Snyder offered a visit to the set of the hit ABC show Modern Family, table for two at the exclusive Rao’s in New York City, a celebrity experience with chef Cat Cora at a taping on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, a luxury Crystal Cruises trip from Barcelona to Venice, and black diamond earrings from Susan Foster.

Following the spirited bids, special guest entertainer Haley Reinhart stepped into an alcove with stools to set up for a short performance with an acoustic guitarist, sharing some of her vocal talents that ranked her third on the 10th season of American Idol. Reinhart performed some inspiring songs with the the crowd, including “Can’t Find My Way Home” and “Wasted Tears.” She released her debut album Listen Up!, in May 2012, with a fusion of pop, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll and soul, and she spoke with Noozhawk about the impact of working with charities like the Dream Foundation.

“I just think small, big, whatever it is, it’s amazing,” she said. “And for us being in the music industry I just think that this is really one of the bigger messages and things that we need to get across. We have to use our gifts and be able to help others and get that through to other people.”

According to Dream Foundation ambassador Priscilla Presley, who also spoke with Noozhawk, the launch event was a special event that created additional buzz for the upcoming gala.

“This has been a thank you to all of the people who have been supportive and who have donated in this lovely home here,” she said. “And it’s another part of the Dream Foundation, what it’s done. It’s a very intimate foundation where we all know each other, and the community has really pulled together. We have our big gala coming up Nov. 16, and we’re all here to support it and to donate.

“It’s the best charity event that I think I’ve ever been involved in. And as their ambassador I want to have more people come and get involved. ... I don’t know what it is about the Dream Foundation other than the fact that not only is it the support of all the requests that come in for granting last wishes, but the people who are involved are amazing. Very charitable, very loving and very giving.”

The Dream Foundation’s 11th annual Celebration of Dreams gala will be held Friday at Bacara Resort & Spa, and will feature Santa Barbara local Katy Perry and American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, with unique cuisine and entertainment featuring passionate presentations and honoring the families of the Dream Foundation. An after-party with special guests and musical talent will follow the program.

Lythgoe has been involved with the Dream Foundation for six years, supporting dream requests for recipients to meet personal heroes utilizing his affiliations with American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Dream Foundation. Perry is involved with many organizations and, together with the Dream Foundation’s Celebration of Dreams, brings awareness to children who are facing the impending loss of a parent.

All proceeds for the launch event at Arcady Paviliion benefited the Dream Foundation. The event was presented by O’Gara Coach Westlake and event sponsors included Santa Barbara Magazine, Lucky’s and Sacks Productions.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.




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