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William Sansum Diabetes Center Honors Anne Smith Towbes with a Namesake Orchid All Her Own

Santa Barbara International Orchid Show preview party and benefit includes presentation of Anne Smith Towbes Phalaenopsis Orchid

Anne Smith Towbes, with husband Michael, was presented with a Phalaenopsis orchid named in her honor during the William Sansum Diabetes Center’s Gala Preview Party before the 71st annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show at Earl Warren Showgrounds. Click to view larger
Anne Smith Towbes, with husband Michael, was presented with a Phalaenopsis orchid named in her honor during the William Sansum Diabetes Center’s Gala Preview Party before the 71st annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show at Earl Warren Showgrounds. (Gail Arnold / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

On the eve of the 71st Annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show at Earl Warren Showgrounds, more than 200 community supporters turned out for the William Sansum Diabetes Center’s Gala Preview Party.

After a hiatus of several years, the Gala Preview Party returned Thursday evening with an incredibly dazzling backdrop and a lively crowd.

This year’s theme, “Wild World of Orchids,” features stunning orchid displays, including exotic orchid species and hybrids from 60 exhibitors from the United States, Columbia, Ecuador, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.

Each display on its own is breathtaking. Experiencing all of them together is a magnificent sensory experience.

This year’s gala honored Anne Smith Towbes for her longstanding generosity to the community by naming a Phalaenopsis orchid in her honor.  Towbes and her husband, Michael Towbes, have been major supporters of the William Sansum Diabetes Center for more than 20 years, with much of the support going to the center’s world-renowned Pregnancy and Diabetes Program.

The orchid, which took five years to bloom, was created by George Vasquez of Zuma Canyon Orchids in Malibu, and is now registered in perpetuity with the Royal Horticultural Society in London as the Anne Smith Towbes Phalaenopsis Orchid.

Ellen Goodstein, executive director of the Sansum Center, welcomed the guests, and Sandra Svoboda, its board president, presented Towbes with the beautiful orchid.

In thanking the center for this honor, the beloved and always charming Towbes had the crowd laughing when she noted how she is used to being referred to as a shrinking violet but thinks this orchid is a better flower. She noted her long history with the Sansum Center, going back to when her late husband, Bob Smith, was cared for there and how happy she is to support the center.

Especially striking at the show was an enormous 18th century Chinese Orchid Garden Pavilion created by David Murdock’s Ventura Farms in Thousand Oaks. This display was the winner of the American Orchid Society’s Show Trophy for Best Exhibit in Show (90 points).

Also wowing the crowd were Cal-Orchid Inc. of Santa Barbara, whose display won the Sweepstakes Best Display in Show, and Westerlay Orchids of Carpinteria, whose display garnered Special Recognition for Design.

Some guests took advantage of private orchid tours led by orchid experts while sipping wine and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres. Many others strolled leisurely on their own, from one spectacular display to the next.

The William Sansum Diabetes Center is dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of diabetes. The facility develops new treatment protocols and tests new drugs and medical devices for their efficacy and safety.

The center is known for its work in the field of diabetes and pregnancy. Thanks to protocols developed at the center, women with diabetes can now deliver healthy babies.

The center is also known for its ongoing work in the development of artificial pancreas technology, which strives to enable patients to have automated glucose control. In addition, it provides direct clinical care to patients, and offers diabetes and nutrition education to Santa Barbara residents.

Click here for more information about the William Sansum Diabetes Center. Click here to make an online donation

The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real. The show features exhibits, plant sales, orchid art and photography, culture demonstrations and floral arrangements.

The show, in its 71st year, is the largest and longest running orchid show in the United States. Organizers expect 8,000 to 10,000 visitors this year.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.

Noozhawk contributing writer Gail Arnold can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

(Ronald Williams​ video)

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