27th Annual Desert Spirit Gala – April 3, 2016

Benefiting the American Cancer Society

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Event Chair Kim Waltrip, recipient of the Humanitarian Award Pat Van Patton, Inspiration Award recipient actress Linda Gray and event Co-Chair Melissa Neiderman
Photo by Loretta Vlach


The American Cancer Society’s 27th Desert Spirit at the majestic Heckmann Estate in Rancho Mirage was a return to its outdoor roots.

Upon check-in, each guest received a wine glass courtesy of Renova Solar. During the silent auction, guests sampled BuzzBox and Spa Girl cocktails, La Quinta Brewery, Anna de Codorniu, Crater Lake, Callaway Winery, and a private red wine blended by the Braun Family. Roy’s and Trio supplied appetizers.

Actor David Steen emceed, and Kyle Puccia and Danielle Bisutti of Los Angeles entertained. A special treat was high school student Emily Neiderman (aka Emi Grace) performing her original song Survivor in honor of her grandmother, Diane, a two-time cancer survivor, and wife of renowned author Andrew Neiderman.

Once in the grassy dinner area, Desert Palms Leadership Council chairs Melissa Neiderman and Alison Mayer Sachs asked cancer survivors to come forward. They filled the dance floor! Diane Neiderman and emcee Karen Devine gave memorial tributes to Lee Ames and Gloria Greer. Linda Grey received the Inspiration Award, the Van Patten Family received the Humanitarian Award, and Tom Davis spoke eloquently and passionately when he received the Celebration of Life Award.

Hosts Dick and Wendy Heckmann, event chair Kim Waltrip, co-chair Renae Madore and founding president Sally Brooks mingled with the crowd. Jan Bergman and Harold Matzner were Gold Sponsors. Silver sponsor was the H.N and Frances C. Berger Foundation. Seen were Ed and Mona Sher, Sherri Auen, Catharine Reed, Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade, actress Judith Chapman, Nancy Harris, Karen Tashman, Dick Shalhoub, Dorothy and John Nocita, Valerie Mahabir and Narendra Patel. 

Chef Drew Davis of Catalan Rancho Mirage was Host Restaurateur. Participating restaurants for dinner and dessert were Adobe Grill, Blisage Bistro, Catalan, Cliffhouse, El Mirasol, Kaiser Grille, Koffi, Lantana, New Leaf Catering, Over the Rainbow Desserts, Rio Azul, Smokin’ Burgers, and Wally’s Desert Turtle.

American Cancer Society
73710 Fred Waring Dr., #100, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Photography by Loretta Vlach

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