“Stand Up for Kids” Review – Bruce Jenner Offers Four Seasons of Hope for Boys and Girls

October 2009 (Westlake Village, CA) – Take a stroll through the Four Seasons Hotel of Westlake Village, a “Pleasantville”-meets-Beverly Hills-type suburban town just north of Los Angeles, and you will find yourself immersed in beautiful antique furniture, priceless portraits and works of art, classical tunes from the live pianist, and…. a Kardashian-covered red carpet (Yes, you heard me. I even had fresh contacts and not an ounce of alcohol so I know I was seeing straight!).

Bruce Jenner and his modern day "Brady Bunch" family

Though the Four Seasons is known for its A-List guests, on this October evening, the guests were giving their full attention to the kids – the Boys & Girls Club of Conejo & Las Virgenes (BGC/CLV) to be exact – for the 7th Annual Gala Dinner and Auction, “Stand Up for Kids," co-hosted by Bruce Jenner.

Special guest, Mariel Hemingway, and her date, Robert Williams

The “ Stand Up for Kids” gala, produced by YourBash!, began with a reception for the 600+ guests, among which included Richard and Mary Carpenter and their beautiful family, Mariel Hemingway, Lyle Waggoner, Dave Engen and BGC/CLV's 2008 “Youth of the Year” Sarah Brecht.

During the reception, guests were treated to two complimentary drinks from the bar, as well as delicious comfort-food hors d’ouevres, such as coconut prawns, chicken croquets with BBQ sauce, salmon sashimi atop aioli sauce and a potato crisp, asparagus and sun-dried tomato tart with melted goat cheese, and my two favorites, teriyaki beef skewers with crispy onions and ahi tuna poke in a tempura cone…. Yummmmy!

Special guest, Richard Carpenter, and his family

The two-hour reception gave guests plenty of time to peruse extraordinary silent auction that consisted of 33 unique art pieces from club members in honor of the Jason Mulvaney Memorial, two elegant flower centerpieces and nearly 150 specialty gift bags categorized as “Better Homes & Gardens,” “Family Circle,” “Glamour,” “Travel & Leisure,” “Health & Fitness” or “Food & Wine.”

Most baskets varied in value from around $100 to around $600, with tickets to athletic games or leadership seminars, autographed books, personal trainers or life coaches, children’s toys, golfers’ dream packages of games and paraphernalia, designer sunglasses, spa days, etcetera. There were a few exceptions which I consider priceless in today’s economic and employment situations, particularly Power 2 Transform’s 6-hour “reducing team conflict” workshop for 24 people (compliments of John Bentley, valued at $4,000) and Eloqui’s five 2-hour sessions on communication skills, anxiety management, structure and project management techniques and PowerPoint improvement methods (compliments of Deborah and David Booth, valued at $3,500).

Various works of art from members of the BGC/CLV

“The highlight of the auction,” said a BGC/CLV supporter, “is the scholarship fund, which makes it possible for the less privileged children within our region to participate in BGC/CLV’s life-changing programs.”

There were almost 150 gift baskets for guests to bid on

Winners of the silent auction items were announced at the close of the reception and left everybody feeling giddy. Guests had their arms full with new treats and, thanks to contributors’ generosity, “ Stand Up for Kids” netted nearly a quarter-million dollars, all of which benefits the BGC/CLV. As of the Wednesday following the gala, however, Maggie Han, PR for the BGC/CLV said that additional monetary donations were still getting counted.

Unfortunately, I was not invited to partake in the rest of the evening: gourmet dinner and exceptional entertainment from the community, yet word in the Conejo Valley has been that the speakers and performersBruce Jenner, Sarah Brecht, Mack & Jamie, “A Class Act” and Jamie Kaufman – were phenomenal.

Special guest speakers included "Youth of the Year" Sarah Brecht (left) and Olympic Hall of Famer Bruce Jenner (right)

Guest of Honor, Olympic Hall of Famer and daddy of ten (plus grand-daddy of two), Bruce Jenner gave an inspirational speech, “ Find the Champion Within.” What I find to be personally inspiring, is the fact that in addition to acting, producing, writing, being named “ Outstanding International Sportscaster of the Year” and serving on several advisory boards in the state of California, Jenner has worked with the Boys & Girls Club since its creation in 1972.

(left to right) Sarah Brecht, Kris Jenner and Melanie Han discuss the importance of community involvement

In more recent years, Jenner and supportive wife, Kris, founded the “D ream Foundation,” which provides grants and assistance to terminally ill adults. Kris said that they try to give back to the local community in as many ways as possible. Speaking of which, Kris let it slip that her and the infamous Kardashian sisters (who were supposed to attend “Stand Up for Kids” to support Papa Jenner, but ended up as “no-shows”) will be launching a baby line at Dash, as well as a skincare line that is still in the works.

Enough talk about outer beauty, and back to what counts on the inside… a sense of humor. Comedians Mack & Jamie, whom Jay Leno described as “the funniest comedy duo working today,” got guests in touch with their silly youthful sides. In fact, an LA Times critic praised Mack & Jamie as “the smoothest pairing since Hope and Crosby.”

Mack and Jamie were dubbed the "funniest comedy duo" by Jay Leno

Though the next acts were too young to know of Hope and Crosby, the Choral Musical Department and community service comedy ensemble, “ A Class Act,” of Westlake High School put together a few original skits and songs for the evening.

Westlake High School's community service ensemble, "A Class Act"

The Boys & Girls Club of Conejo & Las Virgenes had two of its own members take over the stage to show their appreciation. This year’s “ Youth of the Year,” Sarah Brecht, gave a speech on her experience with the BGC/CLV, and aspiring singer, 11-year old Jamie Kaufman, gave a musical performance.

BGC/CLV's member, Jamie Kaufman, gave a musical performance

According to Jamie’s mom, Deborah Shreffler, “Jamie is self-motivated and driven.” Not only was he recently selected to perform in the “ Karaoke Fest” at the L.A. County Fair, but he also “eagerly underwent the rigorous audition process for this evening’s Gala.”  Jamie is extremely passionate about the performing arts, and now that the “Big Night” is over, his eye is set on landing a spot on “ American Idol.

More about the Boys & Girls Club of Conejo & Las Virgenes:
“Our Clubs offer the best places for local kids, ages 3 to 14, to experience fun and enrichment before and after school, and during weekends and summer. Our award-winning programs in leadership, sports, the arts, technology and academic assistance are designed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Newsweek calls BGCA “the model of a well-run national organization”; Forbes and U.S. News & World Report consistently rank BGCA among the top charitable organizations in America based on cost-effective use of donor dollars.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Conejo & Las Virgenes
5137 Clareton Drive, Suite 210
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Phone: 818-707-0905

David Candaux Photography
Cell: 818-632-6661

Four Seasons Hotel
2 Dole Drive
Westlake Village, CA 91362
Phone: 805-575-3000

1133 9th Street, Suite #109
Santa Monica, CA 90403
[email protected]
Phone: 310-393-BASH (2274)
Fax: 310-427-7161
Cell: 310-749-0703

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