Lee Luria’s Quarter-Million-Dollar Challenge

Leatrice (Lee) Luria says she became involved with Sansum Santa Barbara Medical Foundation Clinic many years ago. “My doctor is Kurt Ransahoff, the head of the clinic,” she says during a photo shoot her daughter Kandy Luria-Budgor and Vicki Hazard arranged. Lee explains that there had been times “when we’ve talked about things the clinic needed and Eli [her late husband] and I helped out with a few things here and there. But,” she continues, “they need the newest mammogram machines.

So Lee did what any self-respecting philanthropist would do: she offered a challenge grant. She promised to donate $250,000 and challenged the community to come up with an equal amount. Each mammogram machine costs in the vicinity of a quarter of a million dollars.

“I thought a challenge grant was the way to do it,” she explains. “I thought if I made this grant that other women would stand up and say, ‘Yes, I’ll help.’”

Her instincts have proven right, as illustrated by the number of women that showed up at short notice for our cover photo. Most of the women are cancer survivors and all have contributed something to try and match Mrs. Luria’s $250,000 challenge.

“It’s almost a no-choice situation,” says Kandy. “We desperately need to raise money for mammogram machines. What people don’t realize,” she says, “is that mammogram machines have a lifetime and because Sansum does so many for Santa Barbara women, the machines are overworked and [nearing their useful lifespan].”

“The beauty of it is that we are getting the latest and the greatest when we change machines,” Kandy adds. “By getting the latest model, our detection rate will be higher. We actually can save more lives because of the new machines.”

Vicki concurs: “Now, it’s up to us to meet Lee’s challenge,” she says.

For every dollar donated by other individuals, groups, or organizations toward women’s imaging equipment before December 31, Mrs. Luria will match it dollar for dollar up to $250,000.

“There is an urgency to this,” explained Ransohoff. “First, to meet Mrs. Luria’s gifting deadline. But even more important, the sooner the new digital mammography equipment is in place, the better advantage we have in the early detection of breast cancers.”

Sansum Clinic is an independent, not-for-profit, multi-specialty clinic offering a broad range of healthcare and outpatient treatment options to more than 120,000 residents of the Santa Barbara region each year. To join Mrs. Luria as a donor in the Clinic’s campaign for new digital mammography equipment, contact Lorna Berger, Director of Philanthropy at (805) 681-7726 or lberger@sansumclinic.org.

Wheel Of Fortune For Two Cate Students

Carly Biedul and Brennan Cusack are lifelong friends, having met before entering kindergarten. Both girls attended Crane School from kindergarten through the eighth grade and are now sophomores at Cate School in Carpinteria.

So, after Carly applied online (wheeloffortune.com) to become a contestant on “Wheel Of Fortune,” and received an e-mail from the show to come down to Los Angeles for an interview, she naturally chose Brennan as her partner.

The two girls went to Los Angeles and became one pair of about 35 other pairs of contestants, and after they left, Carly says they both felt they had done well enough to get on the show.

“We kind of guessed that we might be chosen,” Carly says, “because we did pretty good, but when we got the call, we really were excited.”

On the day of the show, “We had to show up at six o’clock in the morning,” Brennan recalls, “and we had to fill out paperwork with our parents, practice spinning the wheel, took pictures, recorded videos of us talking together, and then we split up into groups of six; each group had three pairs. There were six shows that they do in one day. We were the last ones and we got done about six o’clock [in the evening].”

“We got up about 4:30 because we spent the night in L.A.,” Carly recalls.

As to how the girls illustrated their level of enthusiasm in order to be chosen as contestants: “Whenever they said our name, we would jump up and start screaming,” Carly explains. “When we got the puzzle, we hugged each other and clapped a lot. You have to clap a lot. We were really happy,” she adds, “so it wasn’t too hard to act happy.”

Another reason they thought they might have been chosen: “We were kind of thinking,” Carly admits, “that two redheads would look kind of cute on the show.”

The shows were videotaped in July, but Carly and Brennan’s appearance is scheduled to be aired Wednesday evening, October 22, beginning at 7:30 pm, on Channel Six (NBC).

A Grand Re-Opening

Owner Ty Warner and Four Seasons Biltmore celebrated the official reopening of Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club on September 25, following the completion of a three-year, $65-million restoration.

They did so in style, with a full-on fashion show featuring live models parading along the temporary runways constructed upon the larger-than-Olympic-sized Coral Casino pool wearing outfits from the 2008/’09 Louis Vuitton Cruise Collection. Following the fashion show, Dita Von Teese protégée Ava Garner performed a special fan dance on the runway that, if nothing else, certainly captured the attention of the men in the audience.

Additional notable attractions included water cannons and special lighting that lavished the pool with special effects, a sugary replica of the pool and chocolate diving board designed by Pastry Chef Don Hall, and two custom ice sculptures, one featuring a fish and the other a wave with the Coral Casino logo inside. Ice cream was made on the spot at the dessert station using liquid nitrogen, and all the food served had a Mediterranean flavor, in keeping with the theme of Tydes, the new second-floor oceanfront restaurant. The food at the seafood station, for example, was actually flown in fresh from the Mediterranean, including "branzino" (seabass), rouget, "gamberoni" (shrimp) and mussels. 

Upstairs, the flambé station served crepe suzette with homemade olive oil ice cream. 

The cheese station featured cheeses from all over Europe and paired wines. 

There were also caviar and crab stations. 

Upon arrival, guests were greeted with signature cocktails, either the coral-colored Casino Royale served in a Martini glass, or an aqua-blue 

La Pacifica served in a Hurricane glass and containing blue Curacao. Later, in Tydes (upstairs), Morganne sang French (Mediterranean?) classics as guests munched crab and shrimp, drank vintage Champagnes, or sipped fine cognac.

A short list of the nearly 400 attendees includes Julia Louis Dreyfus, Brad Hall, Jacqueline Buckley (née Cox), Dennis Miller, Carol Burnett, Cole Hauser, Jake Weber, Salud Carbajal, Leslie Ridley-Tree, Josh Odell (grandson of Coral Casino’s original owner), Michael Towbes, Hillary Hauser, Tom and Mary Belle Snow, the dazzling, popular, and newly married Erinn Lynch, Brooks Firestone, Andrew and Ivana Firestone and her actress friend Moon Bloodgood, Christopher Lloyd, Andy and Dolly Granatelli, Janet and John Wilczak, Dallas and Peter Clark, Adam Bianchi, Michael Cooney, and...

Party coordinator Jeffrey Best, inspired by the historic photo in the Coral Casino lobby of the 1956 Town and Country show, mimicked the orientation of the solid wood runway used then with the Plexi-glass runway that had been installed for the fashion show. Instead of black curtains framing the runway (as in 1956), Best used film screens instead and projected Hal Boucher’s great old photos of Hollywood celebrities who’d visited Coral Casino on them.

DJ Mike Smith, brother of C Magazine publisher Jennifer Smith Hale (and son of the late owner of KEY-TV Bob Smith), spent hours rehearsing with the “floating symphony” musicians to synch the digitized tune with the live orchestral music for the LV fashion show.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Heal the Ocean, a local non-profit organization that focuses on minimizing ocean pollution through the testing and study of wastewater infrastructures and storm-water contamination and the elimination of ocean dumping and coastal landfills.