Young Professionals Go Hollywood for CF

June 2, 2008

A bevy of southern belles came for some Hollywood glamour at the Diamonds are Forever gala in Knoxville.
A bevy of southern belles came for some Hollywood glamour at the Diamonds are Forever gala in Knoxville.
For one glittering evening in February, the Tennessee Chapter brought the glamour of Hollywood’s Academy Awards to Knoxville with its first annual Martinis and Movies Diamonds Are Forever gala. Presented  by the Knoxville Office’s Young Professionals Leadership Committee (YPLC), the event raised $50,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Academy Award fever was in the air from the start. As the 500 guests arrived at the Knoxville Museum of Art, they stepped onto a vibrant red carpet, lined with velvet-ropes to keep the paparazzi at bay. Once inside, guests bid on a range of silent auction items and danced to live music from an ‘80s band.

At 9 p.m., the gala switched gears. To broaden the evening’s appeal, and to the delight of basketball fans, a live broadcast of the highly anticipated showdown between the University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis men’s basketball teams was aired.

After dinner and basketball, local news anchor and the night’s emcee John Becker kicked off the live auction with the “Ultimate Swag Bag,” featuring a Gucci watch, and a dinner package with UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl. The night’s highlight came when Becker welcomed Dr. Sterling Simpson of the CF Care Center at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to the stage. Dr. Simpson’s passionate Bid for a Cure inspired enthusiastic bidding among the crowd.

“It was the perfect blend for this particular group in this particular town,” YPLC Chair Rebecca Bond says of combining such opposites as the Oscars and college basketball for the event. “We were able to appeal to a broad audience and to garner great support for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”

Many thanks go to gala co-chairs Mark McDermott and Laura Lyons; corporate sponsors Holrob, Gatti’s Pizza, Pilot Corporation, Regal Entertainment Group, The Trust Company of Knoxville, Jewelry Television, and Knoxville Magazine, among others; and to key event volunteers Logan Brummit, Marcus Carr, Kelly Whiteaker, and Ashley Wilson.