Original “Best Buddy” Anthony Shriver, the youngest of EuniceandSargent Shriver’s five children, proved that most Washington parties are “tame” compared to the wild and exotic “Zulu Tu-Du!” bash he threw at his parent’s Potomac manse Saturday for his 16-year old non-profit organization, Best Buddies International.
More than 650 guests paid $500 to $50,000 apiece for the privilege of being greeted by “Lucy,” a 15-foot, 75-pound Indian python, and “Flower,” a striped skunk, among other beasts borrowed from the Baltimore Zoo. That set the tone for the night’s over-the-top entertainment by Cirque du Soleil, Kool & The Gang, Sujeet Desai and an African dance and drum troupe. The extravagant event with a star-studded guest list (Olympian Carl Lewis, actors Casper Van Dien and Catherine Oxenberg) raised more than $1 million to foster individual friendships with the developmentally disabled in all 50 states and 10 foreign countries.
Co-chairs May LiangandJim Lintott led the megadonors’ parade along with Tatiana GauandCampion Platt, and LynnandTed Leonsis.
Mr. Leonsis, who sat with his own “Best Buddy” Ken Holden, at his table, joked that he couldn’t say ‘no’ to Eunice and Anthony, who recruited him into the program 10 “life changing” years ago.
“Ken is my e-buddy,” America Online’s vice-chairman noted with some emotion. “We’ve been writing to each other twice a day for six years.”
Houston honoree Becca Cason Thrash, in a slinky silk “green leopard” number by Christian Dior, not only raised more than $3 million for Best Buddies over the years, she brought 150 Houstonians along with her and had Houston special event designer Richard Flowers create the gorgeous jungle under the big top.
Pencil-thin Eunice Shriver abandoned her filet mignon and left table mate Jim Kimsey behind to work the room with Anthony, who didn’t mind boasting about his high-profile political “Buddies” in this election season.
“Senator Kerry has a ‘Buddy’ and I have a new sense of admiration for him after seeing him finish our 90-mile [bicycle] ride two years ago in Boston. We had 400 riders and only 45 finished. It was so cold, I got frostbitten, my lips were blue and I felt like I couldn’t move.”
President Bush hasn’t had the time to meet and talk yet, but his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, has a “Buddy” in Florida. Anthony’s brother-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger and sister Maria Shriver have also had a “Buddy” working in their home for four years.
Inspired by his Aunt Rosemary, now 84, the intellectually challenged child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy, Anthony learned as a small boy “that someone with profound disabilities … could swim better than any one of us.
“Each of us has to discover ‘our own swimming pool,’” he said. “That is the challenge to our society.”
— Gail Scott
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