Benefit gala goes low-key

RANCHO SANTA FE — For those planning on attending the Un-Gala Un-Plugged benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association on May 14, there are a few things you need to know.
“We want this to be everything a gala is not,” said Beth Davidson, spokeswoman for the Alzheimer’ Association. “No high heels, no tuxedos and no rubber chicken. We just want to have fun. People can mingle. There is no set seating arrangements. There will be wine and tequila tasting. It is a great venue for people to mingle and check out the silent and live auction items.”
All the proceeds from the benefit will be given to the Alzheimer’s Association and the 50,000 people it serves in San Diego County annually.
Susan Taylor, anchor of NBC 7/39 News, is the co-chair of the event. She said that women who are over 55 years old today will have a one in six chance of getting the disease. For men, it is one in 10.
“Alzheimer’s disease robs people of their memory and logic and devastates those who care for them, the spouses, the children, the friends,” Taylor said. “It’s just a hideous disease.”
She said the great news is that some breakthroughs are on the horizon and that UCSD is conducting a late-stage trial with an experimental drug showing some promise, but a cure is still years away.
The event will also be the last time that Taylor and Marty Levine will be officially appearing together since Levine will be retiring on May 26, his last night on the air.
The Un-Gala Un-Plugged is casual. It will be held at a private home in Rancho Santa Fe.
Providing entertainment for the evening will be three-time Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter Shawn Colvin.
Some of the auction items include trips to Tuscany, Bali and New York City. Tickets to popular talk shows like “The Ellen Degeneres Show” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” are up for grabs. Other auction items include a ride in a vintage bi-plane, a cruise on Dennis Conner’s 145-foot schooner, Lasik eye surgery, dinner for six by Sam the Cooking Guy and local getaways to L’Auberge and Rancho Valencia.
The vendors, all donating food and wine, are among the best restaurants in the area including Pacifica Del Mar, Blue Point, The Prado, Donovan’s, Ruth Kris, Vivaci and Extraordinary Desserts.
“We always had a spring event for the last 15 years,” Davidson said. “When we saw where the economy was going, we decided not to spend money on a hotel when you have it in your own backyard. We asked great local restaurants if they could make tastings of their signature dish or 400, they agreed.”
She said all the food and wine are donated which cuts expenses by 50 percent.
“That enables us to spend more of the money we raise for programs and services we provide,” she said.
Ticket sales are brisk but some are still available. They are $250 per person or a place in the VIP for $500.
More information is available by calling (858) 942-4400 or by visiting SANALZ.ORG.

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