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Rain doesn't dampen spirits at Children's Hospital benefit

Sunday, June 29, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

It's one thing to embrace the theme of a party. It's quite another when doing so is akin to wearing the weight of the world on your shoulders.

“I had nothing to wear!” Joe King quipped as he entered the white tents Downtown for Diamonds & Denim on Market Square with a cluster of 32 shimmering brooches adorning his neckline. “I would have added more, but it was getting heavy.”

And so, the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation Transplantation Surgery Auxiliary punctuated the weekend with its inaugural celebration to benefit the Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC on June 28, an event co-chaired by Karen and John Staley and Tinsy Labrie.

“This is fantastic,” said Children's Hospital prez Christopher Gessner. “This is the start of something bigger.”

As the name would suggest, the dress code ensured more than a few surprises from a guest list that seemed intent on inspiring some serious people-watching. As if that weren't enough, lingering on the perimeter were a sea of gawkers whose curiosity got the best of them.

Midway through the evening, a summer breeze morphed into a summer shower and unleashed its fury, sending the likes of foundation prez Greg Barrett and chief of pediatric transplantation and honorary chairman Dr. George and Rebekah Mazariegos running for cover as DJ Zimmie spun. Joining them were Debbie and Mike Barbarita, Kathe and Jim Patrinos, Mollie Hanna Lang, Hoddy and Mary Anne Hanna, Eileen French and Patrick Jordan, Martin Potoczny, Sergio Athanasso, Ronda Zegarelli, Deb Wheeler, Athena Sarris, and Carol Shriber and Charles Snyder.

Never a crowd to let something as minor as a torrential downpour dampen its spirits, the party continued unaffected. By eve's end, foundation development coordinator (and the party's creator) Sam Badger had solidified his status as crowd favorite by voluntarily escorting ladies to their cars under the cover of an umbrella.

“It's just what I do,” he laughed.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at, 412-380-8515 or via Twitter @KateBenzTRIB.




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