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Cindy, Dr. Ruth and a Gorgeous Cipriani

April 3, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Spirit of Discovery Ball Cipriani 42nd Street Thursday, 03.29.01, 6:30 PM onward
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“Is Cindy Crawford coming?” was the question of the evening at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Spirit of Discovery Ball. The supermodel's tardy entrance (somewhere between the crab salad and the main course) caused all of the journalists to jump out of their seats and rush over to the cocktail area, where honoree Crawford strolled in nonchalantly in a black pantsuit carrying a big black bag.

Before the rest of the night's proceedings could continue, she graciously posed for pictures with a few guests (including Dr. Ruth Westheimer) and honorees Alberto Vilar, founder and president of Amerindo Investment Advisors Inc.; Dennis Swanson, president and general manager of WNBC New York; and Selina Chen-Kiang, a professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Cornell University.

The other star of the evening was certainly the room. Bentley Meeker illuminated the grand marble columns of Cipriani 42nd Street with a rainbow of lights that highlighted the numerous palm plants that were brought in by Foliage Garden. The event's planners, Phyllis Keitlen and Moira Pastre of the PLK Group, hired Robert Downs Clark to coordinate the decor for the event. Clark created centerpieces of protea, ginger flowers, papyrus and dendrobium orchids that were placed on top of symmetrical arrangements of palm fronds that splayed over the centers of the tables. Each individual place setting had its own palm leaf and more orchids, so each guest's plate was placed on top of a leaf. At the front entrance, a three-tiered table surrounded by votives displayed a pot of cymbidium orchids, and more palm plants sat behind the check-in table.

PLK also created and organized the event's Latin theme, which featured musical acts DJ Manny Soba and Latin pop artist Olga Tanon, who caused a minor stir herself upon her arrival. No doubt her appearance had something to do with the fact that Andre Midani, the retired president of Warner Music Latin America, who was also an honoree, is the ex-head of Tanon's label. The M.C. for the evening was WNBC News Channel 4's Dr. Max Gomez.

Crawford wasn't the only model at the event. Models circulated among guests to sell raffle tickets--prizes included a trip to the Bahamas, and spa stays and product packages. (Modeling services were donated by Penny Basch of APM Model Management.) The event raised approximately $500,000 for the society.

--Suzanne Ito

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