A star-crossed evening inspired by the lure of fashion, entertainment and, above all, the fulfillment of dreams graced the stage and runway at the 10th Annual Celebration of Dreams gala benefiting the Dream Foundation held recently at the Bacara Resort & Spa.
Spirits were high and the excitement of celebrity and good deeds swirled in the air as more than 600 guests gathered on a luxurious outdoor terrace beneath the fading golden rays of a fall sunset for a cocktail reception and silent auction that started the evening’s festivities.
“We are glad to sponsor this event because it’s for a great cause and it touches my heart,” said John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems. “Dreams really do work.”
The Dream Foundation is a Santa Barbara-based organization founded in 1994 by Thomas Rollerson as the largest nonprofit that makes dreams come true for terminally ill adults.
Rollerson’s organization services more than 2,000 dreams per year providing closure and lasting memories with loved ones and family members.
“Thanks to people like the Dream Foundation who work to give the terminally ill a helping hand in making their dreams come true,” DeJoria said. “The organization is amazing.”
Guests clad in fashionable black-tie attire mingled on the cobblestone patio surveying an assortment of high-end items up for bid that would lead to the fulfillment of many dreams with more than $500,000 raised throughout the night.
Some of the amazing auction items for bid included a golden “ostrich” handbag with matching “baby angel” clutch by Lisa Barfield at a starting bid of $7,300, and for the rock-and-roll music lover there was a cherry-red and cream Fender guitar autographed by lead singer Martin Gore from Depeche Mode valued as priceless.
By nightfall a whisper of cool wind fell over the zealous crowd but no one seemed to mind the chill as a lineup of celebrities, entertainers and special guests slowly started to arrive making their way down a “black carpet” for the traditional red carpet star treatment.
Cheers erupted from the excited crowd of spectators as the parade of A-listers posed for pictures amidst a flash of bulbs, including Priscilla Presley, Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Amber Riley and Naya Rivera from the Emmy-winning musical sitcom Glee.
“This event really means a lot to me because the community always gets together, and it’s really inspiring to have a charity like this where people who live in Santa Barbara come support and fulfill the dreams of people in their final days with terminal illnesses,” said Presley, who serves on the Dream Foundation’s Honorary Board of Governors.
One of the grateful dream recipients in attendance for the evening also received the star treatment in conjunction with the gracious supporters and entertainers.
Sarah Parrish, a 23-year-old dream recipient from Yakima, Wash., was smiling from ear-to-ear as she walked the red carpet and posed for photos with her mother.
“Being in Santa Barbara and having the chance to meet my childhood idols is amazing — it’s a dream come true,” Parish said. “The Dream Foundation wanted me to be here to represent everyone who the Dream Foundation has touched and I’m honored and humbled to be here tonight.”
Parish was diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal tumors in August 2010 and has undergone 13 rounds of chemotherapy.
Before having to leave college due to her illness, Parish was a theater major at Central Washington University whose lifelong dream was to see a Broadway show, and recently the Dream Foundation granted her wish by providing season tickets to the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.
“I was recently able to see the Blue Man Group, and it was amazing,” Parish said.
Additionally, Jennifer Eibensteiner participated in the evening in appreciation of the Dream Foundation and to honor her late husband.
“This night for me is about honoring my husband, who passed away of brain cancer in September,” Eibensteiner said. “I’m doing my best to stay positive, and I’m grateful to the Dream Foundation to be here in honor of him.”
Streisand, known for being camera shy, stood close to Karan, smiling under a frantic haze of flashing lights as local and national media representatives snapped photos and posed questions to the starry duo. But the glare of the spotlight proved too much on this emotional evening as Streisand made it only halfway down before retreating with Karan in an early exit.
Karan soon returned to finish her solo walk down the carpet and told Noozhawk, “Combining two of my favorite passions, fashion and philanthropy, is like a dream come true.”
Other guests sharing in the celebration of dreams included Alan and Tanya Thicke, Ivan Reitman, Lynda Wienman and Bruce Heavin, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, Michael and Anne Towbes, and The Bachelor’s Andrew Firestone.
Guests and celebrities gathered in the main ballroom to begin the program as Ronald Frisch, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, the specialty retailer renowned for its fashion expertise and client service, introduced the Donna Karan Spring 2012 Collection from a long runway before a parade of models.
The collection was inspired by Karan’s ongoing humanitarian efforts in Haiti and the urban ethnic chic was a mix of tribal patterns and swirling shades of black, white and browns with full-length gowns and flowing dresses.
During the presentations and runway show, guests enjoyed a scrumptious dinner, including winter pumpkin soup, roasted prime filet of beef tenderloin and seared marinated prawns, grilled eggplant and dark chocolate bars, white chocolate poppy seed torte and sea salt caramel gelato baskets for desert.
Later, Streisand presented Karan the Dream Foundation’s 2011 Founders Award in recognition of her humanitarian work with the Urban Zen Foundation.
“Donna doesn’t just dress people, she addresses them, mind, body and spirit,” Streisand said.
Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapies combine western medicine with eastern holistic techniques as an alternative form of treatment for life threatening illnesses galvanized after her late husband, Stephan Weiss, died of lung caner in 2001, and in 2009 the Urban Zen Foundation was launched from her late husband’s sculpture and painting studio.
“I’ve been doing yoga since I was 18 years old, and now I’m taking yoga into the hospitals as well as promoting health education wellness,” Karan said. “I think that the wholeness of mind, body and spirit is what is definitely missing in education and corporate responsibility and in the health care system today.”
“Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always been a big dreamer, and being able to be here for others while their dreams are coming true tonight is humbling,” said Toscano, who sang “I’ll Stand By You.” “It’s amazing.”
The Dream Foundation thanks the evening’s sponsors and donors: