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Column: Dancing Stars of Atlanta to benefit Alzheimer’s group
by Sally F. White
April 30, 2014 05:46 PM | 7049 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sally F. White
Sally F. White
A dozen philanthropic Atlantans will show their moves on the dance floor for one exciting evening Saturday to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Georgia chapter. The entertaining and competitive annual event, Dancing Stars of Atlanta, will be staged at the Loews Atlanta Hotel on Peachtree Street in Midtown.

Mirroring the popular TV show “Dancing with the Stars,” the local event will pair volunteer Atlanta participants with professional dancers from local studios to raise money by votes in a one-night gala dance competition.

The philanthropic dancers will train ahead to prepare for the event. Nine-time world dance champion Nancy Senner and former Fox 5 news reporter/anchor Cory Thompson will serve as co-hosts for the evening’s festivities.

A People’s Choice Award will be accepted by the star that raises the most individual dollars donated in their name, and the Judges’ Choice Award will be given to the star with the highest dance score.

Celebrity judges will include WSB-TV meteorologist Karen Minton, WXIA news anchor Brenda Wood and professional ballroom and dance champion Jonathan Doone.

“There are many worthy causes today that need our attention and Alzheimer’s is one of those,” said Chairwoman Lisa Fuller. “As a 2013 Dancing Star, it is an honor to be chairing this important and exciting event to raise much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s research, care and support.”

Chairwoman-elect is Cindy Widner Wall, who also will dance in the competition.

Alzheimer’s has risen to the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the only disease with no cure or treatment to slow its progression. More than 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The dedicated and energetic dancing competitors have pledged to entertain guests and support research programs through the association.

Tickets and information: (404) 728-6046 or

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The Kentucky Derby, known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” will once again ignite the generous spirit of young professionals at the Shepherd Center Junior Committee’s 32nd annual Derby Day fundraiser Saturday at the Chastain Horse Park in Buckhead.

At the party, taking place at the horse park for the first time, attendees will watch the race at the legendary Churchill Downs in Louisville on large-screen TVs. The event also will include food, drinks, casino and lawn games, silent and live auctions and music by Blair Crimmins and the Hookers. Gates open at 2 p.m. with parking shuttle service at 3500 Piedmont Road.

Chartered in 1983 as a support organization for Shepherd, the Junior Committee is comprised of metro Atlanta young professional volunteers, ages 22 to 35, and plans year-round for Derby Day.

Proceeds from this year’s event will support Shepherd’s recreation therapy program dedicated to helping individuals adjust to lifestyle changes caused by a disability through meaningful recreation activities.

Located in Buckhead, Shepherd is a private, nonprofit hospital devoted to medical care and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord and acquired brain injuries and disease and other neuromuscular problems.

Tickets and information: (404) 350-7778 or

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North Fulton horse racing fans are invited to the Down Home Derby party to cheer in the famed Kentucky Derby race Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. at the In Your Dreams Farm on Birmingham Highway in Alpharetta.

Guests are encouraged to don boots, bow ties, jeans, dresses and boots and join the lively fun in the outdoor riding area as they view the race on TVs, compete in games, dance to Jonathan W. Hibbert’s Beautiful Dream band and enjoy food and beverages by 5 Seasons Brewing and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, respectively. Live and silent auctions will offer chances to score a bargain on everything from wine and restaurant gifts to exotic vacations.

Hosted by the Roswell-based nonprofit Child Development Association, the event will support early learning programs for low-income families in metro Atlanta. The mission is to enable hardworking parents to maintain full-time employment to support their families and help economically disadvantaged children 18 months to 3 be better prepared for success in education and life.

Tickets and information: (770) 992-4339, ext. 205 or

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Furkids is marking its 12th anniversary with a party to honor supporter Millard Choate, president of Choate Construction, Saturday at the Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic Community Center on Clairmont Road in DeKalb County.

“Millard has been a major source of inspiration, support and encouragement and has helped us fulfill our goal to provide cage-free shelter and adoption futures for rescued animals,” Furkids founder Samantha Shelton said. “We are honoring his efforts and encouraging loyal volunteers and new friends to help us continue to grow our facilities to keep up with the demand for our special rescue services.”

The evening benefit will include a buffet dinner, open bar and live music by The League of Decency, plus free parking.

Shelton founded Furkids in 2002 when she found a stray mother cat with kittens and could not find a no-kill shelter that would take them in. She formed a unique network of foster homes and volunteers under the nonprofit program that would connect with havens for strays and provide a cage-free, no-kill shelter for rescued animals where they can experience the best care in a loving environment until they are adopted.

Furkids now operates programs for rescue, shelter, sterilization and rehabilitation as it places hundreds of animals in permanent, loving homes. In recent years services have been expanded to include cats, kittens and dogs.

In addition, Furkids has established a network of foster homes to place needy, sheltered dogs into adoptive homes through several generous PetSmart and Petco retail locations in metro Atlanta.

Funds from the birthday benefit will go toward maintaining and expanding shelter facilities and services.

Tickets and information: (770) 613-0880, ext. 106 or

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This year’s annual Beastly Feast benefiting Zoo Atlanta will be held Saturday with a “Ball of the Wild” theme to pay homage to the its diverse animal collection and conservation efforts while celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Held on the zoo campus on Cherokee Avenue near Grant Park, the evening will begin with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a stroll through the facility, followed by a seated dinner, dancing and silent auction featuring art, jewelry, home décor, travel, sporting and cultural opportunities.

This year’s co-chairs are Michele and Ben Garren with a lineup of Beastly Feast committee leaders: Nicole and Miles Cook, patron; Ginny Brewer, Burch Hanson and Gigi Rouland, auction; Kathleen Waldrop, hospitality; Tony Brewer, décor; and zoo board vice chairman Mark Street of Ford Motor Co.

Known for its 29-year history of elegance, atmosphere and spectacular silent auctions, the Beastly Feast will provide critical operating support for programs that maintain and expand the zoo’s leadership in conservation, education and superior stewardship of wildlife.

Atlanta’s oldest cultural attraction began the day a circus came to town in 1889 — and never left. Community involvement was part of the zoo’s life from the beginning, with private citizens donating animals and Atlanta newspapers heralding new arrivals and spearheading fund drives to support the growing menagerie.

Influential residents united with the purpose of driving fundraising, recruiting volunteers and raising awareness of the zoo’s education, conservation and research efforts through the next decades. A low period in the 1980s prompted then-Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young to appoint an emergency team to sustain a new vision for the multifaceted wildlife facility, which then became the nonprofit Atlanta Fulton County Zoo Inc. The present world-class facility has evolved into an exemplary natural habitat for meaningful animal research and public enjoyment.

Reservations and information: (404) 624-5836 or

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The annual MobileIron Nine at Night Golf Tournament at Chastain Park’s North Fulton Golf Course Saturday will benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The fun evening is centered on an nine-hole round of golf played with glow-in-the-dark balls and includes a hole-in-one car giveaway by Stivers Subaru, putting and closest-to-the pin contests along with a silent auction.    

In addition, guests will enjoy an al fresco dinner, drinks, non-golf related contests and live music by Yacht Rock Schooner.

The signature event is hosted by the neighborhood-oriented nonprofit Chastain Friends, one of 35 metro Atlanta volunteer groups dedicated to supporting the Children’s Healthcare Foundation. Proceeds this year will benefit specific areas within Children’s: nursing, the Marcus Autism Center, Hughes Spalding Hospital, the Friends Research Fund and the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit.

Ranked as one of the largest clinical care providers for children in the country, the nonprofit Children’s organization encompasses three hospitals and 17 neighborhood locations in metro Atlanta.

It is committed to enhancing the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research and education.

Tickets and information: (404) 785-7316 or visit

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Sunday afternoon the Pro-Mozart Society of Atlanta will host a members-only special 50th anniversary concert at the Buckhead home of Judy and Ed Garland.

Featuring two accomplished musicians, soprano Chelsea Davidson and pianist Laura Street, the program will include only Mozart compositions to showcase the talents of the young vocalist and pianist. Attendees will also enjoy refreshments, meeting the exceptional performers and socializing with members.

Davidson is an award-winning vocalist from Ringgold and has performed in many musicals and operas. She was the recipient of the society’s 2014 Encouragement Incentive Award. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and plans to continue graduate study towards a career in opera.

Street, 17, has studied piano since she was 4 and has been a consistent performer and winner in numerous competitions and festivals. She won the All State Piano Solo competition in the ninth grade, is a three-time winner of the North DeKalb Music Teachers Association’s Bach Competition, placed first in the advanced upper division of the Atlanta Music Teachers Association contest and won the 2012-13 Atlanta Steinway Society Young Prodigy Award. Street is a student at the Westminster Schools in Buckhead.

The society honors composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s legacy by offering a scholarship program to send one student each year to the Summer Academy at the Mozarteum Institute in Salzburg, Austria.

The society was founded in 1964 under the leadership of classical music enthusiast Nellie Bunzl, wife of the Atlanta-based Austrian Consul Gen. Robert M. Bunzl. Instigated under her leadership, it has continued to entertain and inspire classical musical students and enthusiasts around the Southeast through its scholarship program and an ongoing series of classical music concerts in metro Atlanta.

Today the society’s mission is to foster classical music education, performance and interest in the works of Mozart and other classical composers. Fifty students have been sponsored through scholarships in the society’s history. Kevin Pritchett is the current president.

Information: (404) 667-4700 or

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Friends, neighbors and all nature lovers are invited to gather on the peninsula of the Peachtree Heights East duck pond Sunday evening for the Ladies of the Lake 29th annual Garden Party.

Rich in tradition, the outdoor party is co-hosted by the Ladies of the Lake Garden Club and the Ladies of the Lake Foundation Inc., who are guardians of the serene picturesque neighborhood duck pond park in the century-old Buckhead neighborhood.

This year’s fundraiser, adults only, will feature hors d’oeuvres prepared by neighborhood resident and personal chef Billy Williamson and an open bar with a new signature cocktail called the Hummingbird, named after one of the native park birds. In addition, the party will have live entertainment by Mes Amis, a silent auction ranging from travel trips to restaurant certificates to private parties, plus a wine auction.

An added attraction at the party will be the unveiling of resident Laura C. Martin’s book, “A Nature Guide to the Duck Pond.” Books will be for sale and the author will be on hand to discuss the area’s history and natural beauty.

The missions of both nonprofit volunteer organizations are to protect, nurture and nourish the uniqueness of the in-town area while preserving the beauty and natural resources now and in perpetuity.

The area was first developed as residential between 1908 and 1920 to include beautiful trees, rolling hills and several well-drained flowing springs. In 1922 the Peachtree Heights Community Club was credited for building the duck pond and beautifying the area into a park. Today public areas are preserved and maintained through neighborhood association dues, fundraising projects and community work days. The park underwent major restoration in 2001 when the duck pond was drained and dredged, new silt ponds, retaining walls and bridges were built and special landscaping was installed.

All proceeds from the party benefit the duck pond park’s maintenance and improvements.

Tickets and information: (404) 202-6470 or

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The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center on Means Street in west Midtown will honor Susan Bridges, winner of the fifth annual Nexus Award, Tuesday at a ceremony and reception.

The center created the honor in 2010 to publicly acknowledge an individual or individuals who have made a profound contribution to contemporary visual arts in Atlanta and beyond.

Bridges is the owner and director of Whitespace Gallery, a commercial art gallery in the historic Inman Park neighborhood. A native Atlantan and tireless city booster, obsessive art collector and activist, she opened the facility in 2006 with the mission to encourage artistic expression and promote original, unconventional projects.

Bridges began as an independent curator specializing in “pop-up” shows and serves as a mentor and advocate to emerging artists. She has served on the boards of Art Papers, Burnaway, Flux Projects, the Atlanta Preservation Center and Atlanta Medical Heritage. Her innovative gallery has been lauded as Best Atlanta Gallery and for Best Show in a Gallery by Creative Loafing.

 “Each year, we have a passionate discussion about the outstanding candidates who should be recognized in our art community. Susan is the first gallerist to win this award, and is a shining example of commitment and generosity,” center Artistic Director Stuart Horodner said.

The center is a nonprofit, non-collecting institution dedicated to the creation, presentation and advancement of contemporary art by emerging and established artists. It creates a diverse cultural landscape for artists, arts professionals and the art-interested public through its exhibitions, educational programming and studio artist program.

The current “Gone South” exhibit, on display through May 31, features work by New York-based artist Simone Leigh.

Reservations and information: (404) 688-1970, ext. 211 or

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May 8 will mark the 15th year for generous supporters of the Alzheimer’s Society of Atlanta to gather for a fabulous Meal to Remember evening and raise funds to help people living with Alzheimer’s disease and those caring for them.

This year Nancy and Randy Rizo will host the benefit at their beautiful home on Valley Road in Buckhead.

Scott Ardolino, one of the owners of Affairs to Remember Caterers, originated the fabulous meal concept when he joined forces with society co-founders Sarah Clarke and Sarah Kennedy. He is once again ensuring the culinary success of the unforgettable meal.

Clarke and Kennedy gathered a cadre of 155 original founding members in 1999 to create the nonprofit society, which has grown to become a mainstay of support for local Alzheimer’s programs. Their fundraising efforts help provide financial and emotional assistance to patients, their families and caregivers while supporting Emory University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center work to shed light on a cause and research for a potential cure.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and is the only cause of death among the top 10 causes in the United States that currently cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. The society’s president is Sara Ann Vaughan.    

Tickets and information: (404) 351-2526

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Metro Atlanta’s culinary elite will unite May 8 for the Taste of the Nation Atlanta benefit dedicated to the nonprofit Share Our Strength programs to end childhood hunger.

The extraordinary evening tasting event at the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta will feature gourmet samplings from the city’s most celebrated chefs and mixologists as well as live, silent and wine auctions, wine tastings and live entertainment — all served against the dramatic live backdrop of the aquarium’s sea life. This year’s honorary chair is Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell, a former Atlanta mayor.

The 2014 event chairmen are Pano Karatassos, founder and CEO of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, and George McKerrow Jr., CEO of Ted’s Montana Grill. The honorary chef is Carmen Quagliata, executive chef and partner at Union Square Café in New York.

More than 50 local culinary participants will showcase their finest samplings at the dinner-time event.

One hundred percent of the ticket proceeds from Taste benefits the No Kid Hungry campaign thanks to the generous support of participants and sponsors.

The premise of Share Our Strength is that no child should grow up hungry in America. Studies show that one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength connects these kids in need to effective free nutrition programs like school breakfasts and summer meals and educates low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through the Cooking Matters programs. The related programs are accomplished through networks made up of private citizens, public officials and other nonprofits with support from business leaders and individuals who provide innovative hunger solutions in their communities.

The most recent challenge is to provide a million or more low-income children who need a free or reduced-priced breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom with the food they need for academic success. The nonprofit also is striving to provide meals for these children during the summer.

Tickets and information: (770) 436-5151 or

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The Atlanta Humane Society’s No Ball at All fundraiser is set for May 9 at a private home in Vinings.

It is one of most unusual fundraisers on the metro Atlanta nonprofit scene.

The event was created in the early 1990s, when society members decided to discontinue the organization’s expensive black-tie gala and look for an alternative fundraiser without expenses. Innovative animal lovers decided to save the hassle and expenses associated with formal balls and pass along donations at the end of the year directly to support ongoing animal programs at the society, one of the oldest private nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the nation.

This year’s patrons will gather at the home of a generous member to celebrate the no-cost contributions at an intimate cocktail party with heavy hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment as they meet adoptable animals and socialize with other animal lovers, board members and staff.

They will review how their monies support the society’s mission to prevent neglect, abuse, cruelty and exploitation of animals.

Among the special services offered are adoptions, a charitable veterinary clinic, low-cost spray/neuter services, pet-facilitated therapy, animal behavior training classes, a hotline for help and a pet food bank. The society is only possible through generous contributions of volunteer time and money from the public.

Information: (404) 974-2878, or

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