Friends gathered at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa Dec. 8 to enjoy the 18th annual Dennis James Gala, a benefit for United Cerebral Palsy of the Inland Empire. Kris Long, emcee, stressed the long-standing friendship between the players in the celebrity field who teed off the following day for UCP and the Dennis James family. It was James, a television host, actor, sportscaster and game show host, who hosted the first telethon for United Cerebral Palsy in New York in 1950. He continued to host the national UCP telethons from New York for 47 years — until his death in 1997. He started the Dennis James Golf Classic for UCP 18 years ago and many of the original golfers continue to support UCP and the Inland Empire’s Dennis James UCP Center named after James.
Continuing the tradition started by James are his wife, Micki, Honorary Chair of the Gala and golf tournament as well as vice chair of United Cerebral Palsy Inland Empire (UCPIE), and sons Brad and Randy James. David Narz is chairman, Clarice Lubel, treasurer, Becci Iamele, secretary, and Greg Wetmore, President/CEO. Ed Atwood is Tournament Director. Desert Lexus has been a Platinum Sponsor since the tournament started. Other Platinum sponsors are H.N. & Frances C. Berger Foundation, Micki James, and Lexus Corporate. Gold sponsors are Lamar Advertising, Jackie Autry, Linda Theiben, and Lexus Champions for Charity.
The evening opened with cocktails and a silent auction. Guests entered the Ballroom where youngsters from the James UCPIE Center serenaded attendees with Christmas songs. Following dinner Long urged guests to support the Mecca Summer Camp for children with special needs operated by UCPIE. Children with autism, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and epilepsy participated in last summer’s first Mecca Summer Camp. In addition to funding future summer camp programs, guests pledged support for the purchase of special bicycles made for the handicapped. Children from the James UCPIE Center were able to participate in the Tour de Palm Springs last year with their special bicycles.
Entertainment highlight of the evening was talented comedy impressionist Scott Record who also spoke of the warm friendship among those present and the James family. Record returns to the desert and the McCallum Theatre Jan. 29 for Catskills on Broadway.