The 19th annual Via Ball turned out to be a wonderful tribute for the organization's retiring leader Kay Walker, who has been with Santa Clara-based Via for 40 years, including the past 23 as its CEO.
The Parisian-themed event Friday night at Villa Ragusa in Campbell drew a packed house of supporters who praised Walker's leadership -- the Via Ball itself had been one of her ideas -- and raised nearly $200,000. The funds will support Via Services programs for special needs kids and adults, including the Via West Campus in the Cupertino foothills. Walker, who is retiring in May and was accompanied by Gary Shara, received a well-deserved standing ovation.
The evening was a good blend of elegance and fun, with the Dream Achievers -- a special needs youth band -- entertaining the crowd with a nice mix of old school rock and current hits during the silent auction. Emcee Brian Adams and auctioneer Gary Scott Thomas kept things moving along at a good tempo, and the crowd finished out the night dancing to the music of the Joe Sharino Band.
The elegant crowd included Brad and Marget Baron, John and Toni Heagerty, Carmen and Larry Stone, Bert and Cyndie George, Bobbe George, Chris Citti, Mike and Kathi Endris, Dick and Sandi Conniff and San Jose City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio.
'TWILIGHT' STAR IN MORGAN HILL: "Twilight" star Taylor Lautner, who turns 22 on Tuesday, got an early jump on his birthday celebration Sunday night, dining with friends at Odeum restaurant in Morgan Hill. Lautner, who played hunky werewolf Jacob in the movie series, was no doubt lured there by the aroma of Chef Sal Calisi's Mediterranean menu.
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME: The Guadalupe River Park Conservancy in San Jose always has one of the more interesting Valentine's Day gifts around with its "Adopt A Rose" program at the Heritage Rose Garden.
The $50 package includes a box of chocolate from Schurra's, a big cookie from Cafe Too at the San Jose Museum of Art, a free red rose every month from Citti's Florist and a personal message on a plaque next to the rose bush of your choice at the Heritage Rose Garden for a full year. The donation, of course, goes to help with upkeep of the Heritage Rose Garden on Taylor Street. For more information, go to www.grpg.org for call 408-298-7657.
And if you missed it this time around, there's always next year.