ACT for Multiple Sclerosis Beach Party

Dancers kick up their heels to Dean Torrence and the Surf City AllStars

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The ACT for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) “Beach Party” featuring Dean Torrence (formerly of Jan and Dean) and the Surf City AllStars made such a successful spash that plans are underway for "Beach Party II".

Underwriting has been promised by Rhonda and Ray Smith, who underwrote the entertainment for Torrence and his musicians at the April 12 benefit.

Nancy Stone, who flew back to California from Singapore to attend "Beach Party" on her birthday, says she will buy a table for next spring’s musical and dance romp. Benefactors are lining up for the 2015 sequel in support of the programs provided free of charge by the ACT for MS organization.

The April 12 party began on a high note with tall lifeguard stands, huge bouncing balls, and surf boards seemingly everywhere. Special teachers taught the ladies how to use hula hoops.

Suz Hunt, ACT for MS president, greeted arrivals both on and off stage as did Palm Springs Life Social Editor Gloria Greer, event cochair and founder of the nonprofit organization.

Peggy Cravens, dinner chair, underwrote the wine, and Marc Byrd donated the nifty sand boxes filled with small balls, miniature surf boards, and flowers.

The beach party theme was selected in memory of actress Annette Funicello, who died from MS complications in April of 2013, and who reigned as 'Queen of the Beach Party' movies made in the late 1950s.

Scenes from some of those movies were shown on the screens. There were Beach Party film posters on display at the entrance, courtesy of Meredith Asher whose late husband wrote and directed most of the Beach Party films starring Funicello and Frankie Avalon. A moving video of Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart interviewing Funicello about her condition was also played on the screen.

A live auction before dinner raised more than $55,000, thanks to auctioneer Joel Burlingham from Stokes Auction Group. Items included a cruise, trip, and jewelry donations from The Estate Jewelry Collection, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Seabourne and Paul Gaugin Cruises, Alaska Airlines, and the Montana Sporting Club.

Generous buyers included Aubrey and Lori Serfling, Cash and Betty Baxter, Cathy Simpson, and Sandy Adler.

Auction cochairs were Nelda Linsk and John Lambert. Harold Matzner, Bradford Bates, and the Auen Foundation were event patrons. Benefactors included Eisenhower Medical Center, Ray and Rhonda Smith, Coachella Valley Wellness Foundation, Dale and Irene Gorrie, and Suz Hunt.

Helene Galen and Penny Mason underwrote ACT for MS client tables. Richard De Santis not only donated his production of the show, but pledged an additional $5,000 in memory of his wife (and former board member) Lynn, who died last year from multiple sclerosis complications.

Torrence and the Surf City AllStars kept the dance floor crowded throughout the night. A surprise highlight came late in the evening when ACT for Multiple Sclerosis board member Jack Jones joined his old high school pal Torrence on stage and warbled a few mumbers.

ACT for MS provides year round assistance at no charge to those in the Coachella Valley who have multiple sclerosis, an incurable illness.

Next on the ACT for MS agenda: Jazz it Up with Bill Marx and his Jazz Allstars, 4-8 p.m. June 29 at Mission Hills Country Club. Reservations: 760-773-9806.

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