The Valley Line: Cash and crystal mark Hillsides gala

March 13, 2013|By Jane Napier Neely
  • It was an Arizmendi family affair at the recent Hillsides benefit (left to right) Andrew Jr., Liz, Andrew Sr. and Isabella. Liz Rusnak Arizmendi was chair of the Centennial Gala.
It was an Arizmendi family affair at the recent Hillsides… (Courtesy of Hillsides…)

Our clocks sprang forward Sunday and in honor of that happening, we have been basking in spring-like weather for the past few days. I hope you are enjoying this preview of the season.

It was a banner fundraising event for Hillsides in Pasadena. An astounding $655,000 was raised in order to improve the overall well-being and functioning of vulnerable children, youth and their families in the Los Angeles area. The Centennial Gala was held at The Langham Huntington Hotel and attended by more than 600 guests dressed in formal attire.

It was expertly chaired by Liz Arizmendi, who said the plans for the evening were two years in the making.

When guests entered the hotel's ballroom they found a scene like a winter wonderland in shades of white, silver and soft blue lights. Floral designers from Jacob Maarse created the breathtaking floral centerpieces of white hydrangea, roses and white lilies.


Karen Tanji, a La Cañada Flintridge resident and chairman of the Hillsides board of directors said, “Over the course of 100 years, Hillsides has been privileged to play a part in creating significant, positive and lasting change to the lives of 110,000 people who have been helped by Hillsides teachers and care-givers.”

Receiving Tiffany-designed-and-donated hand-cut crystal awards were special awardees Emmy award-winning actress Jean Smart, comedian George Lopez, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Marcus Allen, Paul Rusnak, chairman and chief executive of Rusnak Auto Group, and Fritz Coleman, Channel 4 weather person.

“I can't thank our supporters enough for making the gala an incredible success,” said Joe Costa, chief executive of Hillsides. “The funds raised will allow Hillsides to continue to create lasting change in the lives of at-risk children, youth, and families. This overwhelming outpouring of generosity is the best birthday present Hillsides could ever receive.”

The evening was action-packed, with a silent auction and later a live auction filled with unique and exceptional opportunities and items hosted by award-winning comedian and actor Christopher Rich.

The live auction got fast and furious when a bidding war broke out among guests for a signed Elton John-band guitar, with band members Davey Johnstone and John Mahon cheering the guests on.

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