Best Buddies Ball Takes Over Shriver Residence for Last Time

Best Buddies raised more than $3 million at its "Grand Finale" ball, the last to be held at Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Potomac estate.

By Adele Chapin October 22, 2008, 11:50 AM EDT

The dinner tent at the Best Buddies Ball

Photo: Anne Sachs

Best Buddies Ball
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For the past 20 years, Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver opened their home to host the Best Buddies Ball, a black-tie fund-raiser for the Best Buddies nonprofit organization founded by their son Anthony Kennedy Shriver. The group seeks to provide opportunities for friendship between people with intellectual disabilities and their non-disabled peers. Saturday marked the final Best Buddies Ball to be held at the Shrivers’ Potomac estate, which was put op for sale in September for $11.8 million.

This year P.W. Feats constructed a huge tented structure from HDO Productions in the backyard of the estate, big enough for 850 guests and even bigger than the one used last year. One of the largest available on the market, the tent consisted of two rooms—a cocktail tent measuring 80 by 120 feet and a dinner tent measuring 220 by 100 feet.

Inside the tent, a Middle Eastern theme recognized the growing Best Buddies programs throughout the Middle East and the evening's special guest, Her HIghness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned of Qatar. “We were definitely influenced by the Sheikha, with the rich jewel tones and opulent theme,” said Kate Taylor, head of the social events division for P.W. Feats, the Baltimore event-planning company that designed the ball for the past two years. P.W. Feats worked with Best Buddies vice president of special events Scott Tracy.

A four-sided mirrored bar with a wrought-iron cage at the center decorated with roses and fake peacocks served as the cocktail tent's focal point. To enter the dining room from the cocktail tent, guests walked through a hall of mirrors draped with alternating purple and gold silk. Fuchsia draping, Arabic-inspired light projections, and tables topped with metal lanterns and floral arrangements of roses and peacock feathers decorated the dining tent. The formal meal catered by Ridgewells consisted of lamb-shank tagines and baklava tarts with figs and pistachios.

But before guests stepped into the tented areas, they first walked through the Shrivers' home, decorated with Kennedy family photos and memorabilia. There they were greeted by Eunice, Anthony Kennedy Shriver, and a triumvirate of beauty queens: Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, Miss USA Crystle Stewart, and Miss Teen USA Stevi Perry. Other famous faces in attendance included Robert De Niro, Randy Jackson, Maureen McCormick, and Carl Lewis, and the evening included performances by Cirque du Soleil and Kenny G.

Although Tom Brady wasn’t in attendance, his car was—guests could check out Brady’s custom 2008 Audi S8 Quattro AT6, parked in the cocktail tent. Brady’s car went for $85,000 at the live auction, which also featured a five-star trip to Qatar, an Egyptian mare, and a vintage wine collection.

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