Their finest hour

| Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A powerhouse of bright-eyed Next Big Things were lighting up the ballroom of the Omni William Penn on Aug. 15, the final stop in a monthslong journey of fundraising and awareness-building for Cystic Fibrosis.

Pittsburgh's 50 Finest graduated its 17th class of 25 ladies and 25 gents in front of a packed house, where founder Doc Mendelson was deflecting his role as fearless leader.

“Pittsburgh has a very gracious social community of upwardly mobile young professionals who understand the greater good,” he said. “It's people willing to give of themselves to cure things previously thought uncurable.”

Before making their debut, honorees were sequestered and receiving instructions, although most of the room was buzzing with moments of triumph.

“I'm beside myself in clover ... over the moon,” said Sam Badger.

Each candidate is asked to raise a minimum of $2,500 for CF through a variety of ways, a challenge that more than a few were ready for.

“We just took it head on,” said Ashlie Hardway, joined by Melissa Cekus. “We just went out and knew what we had to do. ... It's for a wonderful cause.”

Head on, indeed: the class of 2013 raised $310K.

Rounding out the Finest were Matthew Arch, Paul Brendel, Clinique Brundidge, Angela Casale, Lauren Cerqua, Jennifer Chambers, Brian Clinton, Johnny Cortese, Tami Davis, Edith Del Carmen Guevara, Ashley Dougherty, Patrick Finegan, Jolina Giaramita, Jesse Goodall, John Gurman, Brandon Hudson, Janet Irwin, Ryan James, Kimberly Johnson, Olivia Kennedy, Marci Kerr, Ashton Kinney, Kim Langhorst, Elena LaQuatra, Wesley Lyons, John Maggio, Drew Majerick, Jennifer Makowski, Erin May, Jodi Melvin, Joshua Milan, Ashlee Olivo, Dr. Craig Oser, Jim Protin, Shannon Reardon, Tony Rossi, Kristine Schnaufer, Louis Schwartz, Dr. Michelle Jo Semins, Clay Shaffer, Sean Vojtecky, Meghann Walsh, Alan Wilson, John Woodruff, Russell York, Jessica Ziemski, and Daniel Zigerelli.

“One day, we say, we can make CF stand for ‘Cure Found,'” said Amber Nicotra, who co-hosted the evening with Frank Murgia.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-380-8515.

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