WASHINGTON, D.C. Prevent Cancer's globetrotting spring gala, which each year looks to a different country for inspiration, focused on the “Indelible Impressions of India” for its 16th incarnation March 12. The theme carried over to the catering and decor inside the great hall of the National Building Museum and at least one guest: Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar, the event's honorary patron.
According to the foundation's director of special events, Linda Chastain, fund-raising was the biggest challenge of this year’s event, which drew 700 guests—about 100 fewer than last year. Realizing attendance was going down, the foundation re-evaluated the event budget and went to vendors for help. “What makes this event so special is that we have vendors that are willing to support us at discount fees or donations,” she said. “But it is very difficult to fund-raise when the economy is on a downswing.”
A majority of the benefit's $1.2 million take was raised in the weeks prior to the event, mostly from table purchases by last-minute sponsors. At the gala, board member Ronald Doornink made an emotional speech about how cancer had affected his life and offered a dollar-for-dollar pledge that coaxed guests to donate a combined $58,000 on the spot.
New York-based planner and Prevent Cancer Foundation board member David Tutera produced the gala for the 10th consecutive year. The decor focal point of the evening came in the form of ribbons that Tutera's crew suspended from hoops above many of the round and rectangular tables, which were dressed in orange and fuchsia linens. Using a palette popular in Indian sari shops, Frost Lighting uplit the hall's soaring Corinthian columns in hot pink and yellow.
In addition to Indian beverages and a signature Mangotini cocktail, Design Cuisine served a tandoori-glazed black cod as a first course, Indian red curry duck, and vadouvan quail for the main course and a cardamom ice cream stack and chocolate coffee tart for dessert.