By Rob Giardinelli     Photography courtesy of CureDuchenne

THE SCENE: Austin Country Club was the recent setting for an afternoon of fundraising all for a very worthy cause. Several hundred of the city’s most notable philanthropists, sociables, and children’s advocates were on hand to support the annual CureDuchenne ladies luncheon. The event theme, Afternoon in Palm Beach, brought an authentic and elegant mix of touching tributes, a fabulous fashion show, and most of all great friends to support the search of a cure for a debilitating illness that affects children.

THE VIBE: The Palm-Beach chic crowd brought a vibrant and fun mix of bright-colored ensembles, beach-themed stripes, and bold floral prints that created a sunny, welcoming vibe from the second guests arrived. The festivities with an opening reception where guests mingled, and sipped on a glass of bubbly while perusing the silent auction that featured an elegant mix of high-end items including a YSL handbag donated by Neiman Marcus at The Domain.

Patrons then took their seats for the afternoon’s program. Emcee Holly Mills-Gardner effortelessly kept the proceedings flowing briskly and entertainingly. While guests dined on their delectable meals, emotional testimonials from families impacted by Duchenne included the challenges and worries about the disease and what a cure would mean to them. The afternoon was capped off with a fashion show with a variety of looks courtesy of Esitilo.

THE NON-PROFIT: The event, hosted by Venus Strawn and Jennifer Stevens, raised funds for Cure Duchenne. Now in its 20th year, CureDuchenne was founded with the singular goal of curing muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy affects 1 in 5,000 male births where boys are typically diagnosed as toddlers, lose the ability to walk as teenagers and succumb to the illness in their twenties.



14TH Annual Center for Child Protection’s Dancing With The Stars Goes Virtual

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Jeff Loftin, Haley Plotkin and MJ Routh

THE SETTING: Residences around Austin recently hosted small, socially safe gatherings in support of one of the cities most highly anticipated annual events. The Center for Child Protection took the 14th annual Dancing with the Stars gala online. The virtual event had over a thousand viewers, from Austin and beyond, glued to their screens for a night of dancing and fundraising. It proved that the show must go on, and in this case, the dance must go on, because the needs of our communities remain as urgent and important as ever.


THE STYLE: The small gatherings featured supporters wearing their favorite cocktail attire, while others opted to stay at home for a date night while dressed in their finest black-tie ensembles. As guests took to their screens for the evening’s program, they enjoyed the proceedings, which flowed with ease, thanks to emcees Glenn Ball and Holly Mills Gardner. Donors also received a welcome kit from the Center that featured ingredients for the event’s signature cocktail, The Tequila Tango, to help folks find their groove. Video instructions on how to mix them were provided by Society Texas’ own Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli.


Patrons were then treated to eleven spectacular routines where viewers watched each duo Rip it Up on the dance floor, Vogue a pose, have Sweet Dreams of this Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and head out to the Wild Wild West. Each routine featured color commentary from celebrity judges Gary Little, JR Martinez, and Venus Strawn. Between dance takes, there was a live auction item, the highlight of which was Project Graduation, where donors had the opportunity to sponsor an event that allows for teens exiting the foster care system to begin their adult lives. The festivities were capped off by declaring the winners of the 2020 Dancing with the Stars, Julie Jumonville and Travis Herman, followed by an after-party featuring the tunes of DJ Hexum.


THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Tracey Marshall and Jenny Mason, raised over $685,000 for the Center for Child Protection. The Center is a nationally accredited children’s advocacy center. In 2019, it provided forensic interviews, medical exams, counseling, and interventions to help begin the healing process from trauma for nearly 3,000 abused children.

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