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India Cultural Center, NAACP and Gift of Life celebrate

May 30, 2004, Sunday

The Salt Lake Tribune


Elegant saris, pastels to deep reds and blues, long gowns, tuxedos and some distinguished sherwanis (men's formal attire) delineated the space between the Republican Party state convention on May 8 and guests at the 2004 India Cultural Center Gala at the South Towne Center.

There was some crossover -- the events were side by side -- with dinner guests and delegates mingling in the open foyer. At the dinner, Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch, both R-Utah, were joined by Joyce Bennett and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and his wife, pediatrician Amy Herbner. Bennett, Hatch and Matheson saluted the Indian community and its accomplishments.

Lifetime trustee Dinesh Patel greeted guests after an invocation by Debjani Bhar. The dinner featuring saag paneer (spinach with Indian cheese in curry sauce), gobi manchurian (deep-fried cauliflower in tangy sauce), Udon noodles and naan (tandoor baked Indian bread) was a delicious cultural exchange.

The center, established in 1999, promotes and preserves the educational and socio-cultural traditions of Asian Indian ethnic heritage. In 2000, the first gala was held to raise funds for a new center to be built next to the Shree Ganesha Hindu Temple in South Jordan. This year's event raised approximately $ 100,000 for site-plan options, including parking lot expansion.

A highlight of the evening was a performance of Kathak, one of six major classical dances of India, by the Chitresh Das Dance Company of San Francisco.

Satya Rao, Neera Sharma, Vasu Patel, Vasantha Sivaraman and Vijaya Prakash were among the first to arrive at the gala, along with Dinesh Patel, Kalpana Patel and daughter Avni Patel. Charu Kanwal and Venka Subramanyan assisted guests in finding dinner tables.

Phyllis Hall and Utah State University President Kermit Hall attended along with A. Scott and Jesselie Anderson, Sandy and Kelly Powers, Uma and Ashok Khandkar with daughters Neera and Yashoda, Mark Hurst and Jeff Wright, Mahesh Patel, Angela Anigbogu, Neale Neelameggham, John and Suzanne Wirthlin, Ted Wilson and Kathy and Kim Olsen.

Brown v. Board dinner

More than 200 guests attended the NAACP dinner at Little America Hotel on May 11 to observe the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that racial segregation is unconstitutional in every segment of American society -- including public transportation, dining facilities, public schools and all forms of public accommodation.

Langston University President Ernest Holloway, Langston, Okla., was keynote speaker at the banquet, addressing "Brown 50 Years and Beyond: Promise and Progress." The audience applauded Holloway, who stressed the importance of black role models in education.

Holloway accepted the invitation to speak partially because he and Salt Lake Branch NAACP President Jeanetta Williams are friends. In fact, they graduated from the same Boley, Okla., high school.

But not at the same time.

"Dr. Holloway was a teacher when I was a student," Williams said.

Master of ceremonies for the evening was Edward Lewis, NAACP Tri-State Conference president and a member of the NAACP board of trustees. The Rev. France Davis, Calvary Baptist Church, attended, as did Gov. Olene Walker, University of Utah President Lorris Betz, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham and Brigham Young University President Cecil O. Samuelson.

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Art Pi-a attended along with Robert Rendon, Sean Firth, Ron Boone, Angela Anigbogu and Mary and James Green.

A gift of life

The National Kidney Foundation of Utah threw a big party to honor Fred Lampropoulos with the "Gift of Life" award for his contributions to the community. More than 700 people entered the Grand America ballroom under a "Fenway Park" sign. (Lampropoulos is Red Sox fan.) There were lots of '60s music, and popcorn-box centerpieces filled with flowers.

No one enjoyed the evening more than Martin and Peggy Jo Lewis and Franklin and Christie Lewis. About 10 week before the "Gift of Life" dinner, Christie Lewis donated one of her kidneys to brother-in-law Martin Lewis.

For many, the National Kidney Foundation of Utah is a gift of life, helping dialysis and transplant patients by providing financial assistance when needed, funding medical research for prevention and treatment of kidney disease, and promoting organ donation.

Former Sen. Jake Garn, who gave his kidney to his daughter, presented the award to Lampropoulos; Kent Stanger, CFO of Merit Medical Systems Inc. and event chairman, welcomed guests. Merit Medical was founded in 1987 by Lampropoulos, Stanger and William Padilla.

Special guests included former Boston Red Sox pitcher Bruce Hurst, who used reading glasses and remarked, "I think these qualify me to be an umpire."

University of Utah football coach Urban Meyer and Shelley Meyer were there, as were former Brigham Young University football coach LaVell Edwards and Patti Edwards. A Utah "Miss America," Sharlene Wells Hawkes, shared the master-of-ceremonies spot with Brian Ferrand. Foundation CEO Deen Vetterli spoke about the foundation's goals.

Galaxy, a quartet with original "Lettermen" member Bob Engemann; Tammy Johnson; her daughter, "Miss Utah" 2003, Stacy Johnson; and Jerry West were joined by Lampropoulos in a Beatles medley. Some audience members "volunteered" a solo -- Paul Frogley was terrific; others avoided eye contact lest they be asked to face the music.

It was a good time for a good cause and Michelle Lampropoulos enjoyed it along with Craig and Meg Taft, Bill and Pat Child, Bill and Helen King, Jeff and Pam Grant, Wendy Bradley, Kim Phillips, Larry Pisto, Ron and Becky Frost, Scott and Aislinn Bedke, Rich and Karen Nelson, Curt and Mary Crowther, Doug and D Wright, and Westminster College President Michael Bassis and Mary Bassis.


* Dine with Utah's treasures at Utah Museum of Natural History's "Dazzle at the Duval" gala Friday, 6:30 p.m., at UMNH, 1390 E. Presidents Circle on the University of Utah campus. Valet parking. Don a tux and a tiara if you like. Tickets $ 150. 801-585-6308.

* How sweet it is at Kingsbury Hall's Plaza Sweet Saturday, 6 p.m., with a "British Invasion" of fun, music and song. Kingsbury Hall is on University of Utah President's Circle. Dinner, auction. Tickets $ 75. 801-587-7844.

* Alliance House "Queen of Hearts VII Bridge and Game Luncheon" is set for June 7. Social, auction and luncheon at 11:30 a.m.; cards, 1:30 p.m. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 279 S. 300 West. Tickets $ 50. 801-583-7988 or 801-363-0244.

* The Children's Center invites you to celebrate children June 11, 6 p.m., at La Caille, 9565 S. Wasatch Blvd. Auction, dinner, entertainment. Tickets. 801-582-5534.

* Save this dance for Tango June 12, 7 p.m. at the Salt Lake Art Center, 20 W. West Temple, where you will dance, applaud, dine and bid for incredible items and "Adornos," centerpieces holding wonderful surprises. Black-tie or Tango attire welcome. Tickets are $ 150; call 801-328-4201.

* Save the date for the ultimate garden party June 18, 6 p.m., at Red Butte Garden, 300 Wakara Way. Auction, dinner, dancing and art gallery open for bids June 2 through 17 in the Walter P. Cottam Visitors Center. Party tickets are $ 150; call 801-587-9658.

* Welcome the Utah Museum of Art and History, 125 S. Main St., June 25

* Put on your best 1950s duds and join friends of the Sarah Daft Home in a fund-raising dinner and auction Aug. 19, 6 p.m., at the Salt Lake City Marriott City Center, 220 S. State St. Tickets are $ 60; call 801-582-5104.