An Amazing Gala Evening!

April 2, 2012 · Featured, PCRI

PCRI’s Premiere Gala Benefit was an exceptional—and exceptionally successful—evening!  Thanks to First Lady Cylvia Hayes and Governor John Kitzhaber, we started off the program in style with their dramatic and graceful waltz (check out the coverage of their dance in The Oregonian!).
Following the Governor and First Lady’s dance performance (and a packed reception before that), the quick-witted Margaret Carter took the microphone as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies.  For the rest of the fast-paced evening, Mrs. Carter led a full house of guests through an introduction to Executive Director Maxine Fitzpatrick, a brief video history of PCRI, and to a fantastically successful and competitive auction facilitated by Kelly Russell of Kelly Russell Auctions.

Ms. Russell also presented a triumphant special appeal with former PCRI resident and successful homeowner Betty Mason before offering the podium to former PCRI Board Member Barbara B. Smith, who presented Ernest Warren, Jr. with her namesake Community Support Award.

The headlining entertainment of the evening, the Dancing with the Stars-style competition, was also a runaway success.  Five prominent local celebrities were each trained by and paired with professional dancers from Portland’s Fred Astaire Dance Studio.  Each dancing couple put on a spectacular show in the individual performance as well as the group waltz competition.  In between dances, the competition’s celebrity judges kept the audience entertained with their witty commentary about the dancers’ performances.

Pressed to crown a champion, the judges had their work cut out for them:  Stephanie Torres, Director of Events for the Portland Business Journal, took on a difficult rumba for her individual performance and, along with Fred Astaire’s Alex Aillon as her dancing partner, made it look easy.

Brian Stewart, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for JPMorgan Chase & Co, and his long-legged professional dancing partner Jessi Reynolds had the crowd in stitches with a foxtrot  choreographed to Lena Horne’s “I’ve Got Rhythm.”

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury surprised the judges and her professional colleagues, bringing the sexy back in a swing dance with Fred Astaire’s Malik Delgado.  Judge Roy Jay remarked, “so that’s how legislation gets done!”

Voted by the judges as the top dancer in the group waltz competition, professional sports representative Trisonya Abraham also danced a dramatic and stunning tango with professional partner Austin Faller.

The champion of the evening was Portland attorney and interim Director of the National Association of Minority Contractors of Oregon, Melvin Oden-Orr, along with his dance partner, Fred Astaire’s Tara Konyn.  Mr. Oden-Orr and Ms. Konyn stepped onto the floor like true entertainers and put on an amazing show, cha cha-ing their way to the top of the judges scoresheets.

Fred Astaire Dance Studio followed the competition with a stunning show put on by their professional dancers (yes, the photo below was really taken at the gala!) as well as a lesson, then the dance floor was opened to the gala guests who immediately rushed out for their own around the (packed) dance floor.

We extend a giant thank you to all our sponsors, table captains and guests as well as the fantastic volunteers who made the evening such an amazing success.  Thank you also to our professional photographer Xilia Faye as well as our volunteer photographer Izzy Ventura for the stunning images from the event. Be sure to check PCRI’s Gala Website as well as our Facebook page for more photos of the event and to see what’s coming next!

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