- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation is still little-known and low-key, but that may not be the case for long. Its annual fundraiser at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown last Friday had all the typical Washington charity-gala glitter, and, as is the case every year, both the party and the proceeds were bigger than ever.

The organization was started by actress Emma Samms of “Dynasty” and “General Hospital” semi-fame in 1983 as a way to grant wishes to terminally ill children (now the Make-A-Wish-Foundation’s bailiwick) and eventually morphed to its current mission, which includes providing diversions for children with life-threatening medical conditions both in hospital and after they’re released and recovering.

As formally clad guests sipped cocktails, Ashley Padgett, 11, perched on a couch near her parents, Sherine and Frank Padgett, to remind gests why they were all there. A survivor of 10 brain surgeries, Ashley shyly listed the many things she’s received from Starlight Starbright, including tickets to baseball and basketball games, the International Horse Show and “Disney on Ice,” plus a mother-daughter spa day with manicures and facials. (“We needed that,” Mrs. Padgett added.)

The organization was able to rally about 380 mostly young, or at least youngish supporters, even with tickets starting at $250. They included NBC and MSNBC correspondent Norah O’Donnell, David and Kirsten Pollin, Bruce and Sharon Bradley and lobbyists Jeffrey Weiss and Juleanna Glover Weiss.

“It’s a great cause,” Mrs. Weiss said.

Some auction highlights: a week on Nantucket, a bottle of Chateau Pervech-Lalande de Pomerol 1982 valued at $500, and a handmade men’s Kiton suit from Neiman Marcus.

For good will’s sake, guests could also bid on a new $3,250 Fun Center, which is a desktop-computer-sized entertainment module that allows hospital-bound children to use the Internet, play Nintendo, watch DVDs, write letters and such.

By the end of the night, it looked as though good will had won. Starlight raised close to $250,000, with $60,000 in bids to sponsor nearly 20 new Fun Centers.

Christina Ianzito

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