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Medallion Ball celebrates 121 debutantes and their charity work

About JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

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By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

Published: Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Beautiful young women dressed in white dresses mingled in the Swan Room. They admired each other's gowns, giggled and snapped pictures of each other. This was an experience they wanted to savor for a long, long time.

And rightly so. These leading ladies worked hard to get to this night — the annual debutante ball hosted by St. Lucy's Auxiliary to the Blind — in which they were honored for hours upon hours spent enriching the lives of others.

As the ladies took center stage Friday evening at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh, Downtown, for the 49th annual Medallion Ball, young men in black tuxedos and white gloves lined up to accompany them. The mission of St. Lucy's is to encourage a lifetime commitment of volunteer service in young women.

“It's fun,” said John McConnell, who escorted his younger sister Madison McConnell from Oakland Catholic High School. “It's not every day you get to dress up in a tux and bow tie.”

Each of the 121 honorees, high school seniors who compiled an amazing 24,319 volunteer hours to charity, was rewarded with a Joan of Arc Medallion from the Most Rev. David Zubik, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. “The women in this room are heroes to us,” Zubik said. “There are so many people whose lives are richer because these women cared.”

Receiving top honors was Natalie Kindler, who volunteered 749 hours. Second was Anna Lucas from Upper St. Clair High School with 668 hours.

“Volunteering is really like my everything,” said Kindler, from Mt. Lebanon High School. “I can't imagine not volunteering. It is not just for this event. It's a lifelong journey.”

The couples performed a promenade and waltz as the 1,250 black-tie guests encircled the dance floor to catch a glimpse.

The night was exceptional thanks to the dedication of ball chairwoman Jan Kubiska with Peter and co-chairwoman Beth Brunins with Edward; as well as St. Lucy's prexy Patty Orringer with Robert; and dame of St. Gregory Katherine Freyvogel with Knight of Malta Tighe Freyvogel.

Also among the attendees was Roseanne Wholey; Elisa Bosilovic, wearing a stylish animal print gown by Rachel Zoe; Stephanie Lemieux with parents Nathalie and Mario; WPXI sports director Alby Oxenreiter with Karen and son Oliver, one of five cousins involved in the event, who was an escort to Mary Nicholas; Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Catherine with daughter Mara; Dennis and Annie Cestra; Annie Engel and Gus; Steven and Helen Hanna Casey; twins Janet Donahue and Joanne Fallon and daughter Molly; mistress of ceremonies Sally Wiggin; Stephanie and James Rooney with Sarah; Douglas and Carol MacPhail with Mary; Antoinette Ferraro (a former medallion girl); Jennifer Petnuch, who followed in the footsteps of four sisters — Elizabeth, Laura, Maria and Kathleen — and their mother, Susan, with Ron.

Also spotted was Ed and CeCe Kapron, who has choreographed the event for 14 years.

— JoAnne Klimovich Harrop




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