Editorial for October 7: Gala evening opens Cayman’s social season

Cayman is not without its seasons, albeit not the clearly demarcated ones in more changing climes (summer, fall, winter, spring).

But we do have, alas, a hurricane season (so far, thankfully, barely a breeze), a rainy season (not particularly newsworthy this year), and now coming upon us, the tourist season, the holiday season, and this past weekend, the debut of a very active social season, which could not have opened with a more grand, more elegant affair than the annual Breast Cancer Gala Dinner Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton.

In more ways than one, it was Cayman at its finest – good people doing good things for a great cause. Tickets, we’re told, sold out within 48 hours.

More than 500 supporters, corporate sponsors, individual contributors and local VIPs, including our new governor, Her Excellency Helen Kilpatrick, and her daughter, Olivia Connolly, filled the Ritz ballroom to overflowing. The gentlemen, of course, were in tuxedos, the ladies in elegant evening wear. The evening was themed in pink, from the décor to the bow ties for the men to many of the gowns for the women.

The event was sponsored by the Breast Cancer Foundation, whose directors include Kim Lund, James Bovell (of RE/MAX Cayman Islands), and retired attorney John Broadbent. Heather McLaughlin, chief administrator of the foundation, gets credit for the organization and the overall “heavy lifting.”

Hoda Kotb, an NBC news anchor and co-host of the Today show with Kathie Lee Gifford, returned to Cayman as the evening’s keynote speaker, reprising the role she played at the 2009 gala. In 2007, the irrepressible Hoda underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery for breast cancer and since has become a leading voice and proselytizer for breast cancer awareness.

(As an aside, it is worth noting that Hoda would not accept a fee for her appearance, preferring that all the funds be directed toward combating breast cancer.)

The evening began with a champagne reception followed by a cappella serenading by the local group, the Singrays. Our own (meaning Pinnacle Media’s) Vicki Wheaton served as emcee, with just enough zaniness to add comic relief to an evening of serious purpose. Photo wizards David and Melissa Wolfe again donated their services and recorded the evening for posterity.

On a takeoff from the operatic trilogy The Three Tenors, a group called The Three Waiters first purposely confused, then amused, and then thrilled all in the room with their faux accents, faux arguments and antics, and boombox voices. Standing ovations followed.

Back to business, the evening, which began with a silent auction, concluded with a live one. Among the donated items, and the one that engendered the most lively bidding and suitable oohs and aahs, was the very flag (beautifully framed) that Cayman attorney Guy Manning carried to the top of Mount Everest in May.

Local businesswoman Betty Baraud, although a bit more penurious leaving the event than arriving, was the successful five-figure bidder.

The overall “winner” of the evening, of course, was the cause itself, the Breast Cancer Foundation and the good work it performs.