By Janice Carter Levitch
Fourteen years ago, the first ever Gilda’s Night was held and what a difference it has made in the lives of so many people in our community. Rodes For Him For Her along with Bittners has partnered annually to bring this amazing evening to life.
I can remember the first Gilda’s Night I attended was held at Bittners. A tent was set up on Washington Street directly behind their building. And of course, walking through that spectacular showroom without wanting to buy all of the gorgeous furnishings is no easy task (I need blinders on to keep my focus so I won’t immediately have everything in sight shipped to my home).
One of the live auction items up for bid that night was a ski trip to Colorado. Being an avid snow skier, I raised my paddle as the auctioneer began the bidding and before I knew it, the trip was mine. That was the first time I realized I should sit on my hands when any live auction begins. The slightest movement could attract the auctioneer my way.
This year, Gilda’s Night was held at Louisville Collegiate School. I’ve been visiting Collegiate for more than 12 years (both of my kiddos graduated from LCS), and I was curious how the gymnasium could possibly be transformed into an elegant venue for several hundred guests. All my doubts washed away as soon as I stepped foot inside. Large panels of drapery and a stage area with video screens on each side of the emcee’s podium had been added. In Gilda’s red fashion, the lighting was the perfect hue of rouge.
A special treat was the exquisite introductory film of the evening presented by Bittners. It was a visual fairytale without any commentary necessary.
The event’s honorary chairs, Bill and Susan Yarmuth, have to be the most lovable couple around. I rarely saw them without a smile through most of the evening. Annette Grisanti, founding chair, buzzed around welcoming guests while tending to every last detail possible to make the evening perfect (her theme song, at least in my head, is “Flight of the Bumblebee”). Lindy Street looked absolutely stylish in a fashionable ensemble that made me want to help her check her coat so I could “accidentally” take it home with me.
A few remarks were made about Dean “Deano” Corbett, who was a dear friend of Gilda’s Club.
“It was always about the love. When Dean asked you for support, you gave it. When he asked you to attend, you went,” said Kathy Cary, owner of Lilly’s restaurant.
Deano would often say to Gilda’s Club Chief Development Officer Tonya Cook, “What do you need, honey?” His is an example we can all follow – asking how we can help.
President of Bittners Douglas Riddle took the time to speak with as many of the guests as possible. You would never know by his calm demeanor how crazy busy he is behind the scenes. Laura Frazier, chairman of Bittners, received the prestigious Emily Award for her support and giving of $1,000,000 (no, that’s not a typo).
The evening was a tremendous success with several anonymous donors pledging every amount from $100 to $50,000. Organizations like Gilda’s Club make our community unique and the amount of people giving seems to never end. VT