Friday, August 19, 2011
By Jeannette Jordan
Inside Saratoga/The Saratogian

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There was a great spirit of community at the Prevention Council’s fourth annual Dare to Dream gala Monday, Aug. 15, at the Hall of Springs.

In spite of the rain, nearly 200 people gathered to support the agency, which is celebrating its 30th year of education, counseling services, family programs and community engagement to prevent alcohol and substance abuse.

The evening kicked off with tasty passed hors d’oeuvres, which were available as guests perused two huge tables of silent auction items. A delicious trio of tapenades was on each table as guests found their seats and watched a video presentation highlighting Prevention Council programs.

Executive Director Heather Kisselback thanked everyone for coming before introducing honorary chairman and the racecourse’s leading trainer this season, Todd Pletcher, who brought his father J.J., his wife and co-chairwoman Tracy, and their three children Payton, Kyle and Hannah.

Jockey and local resident Robbie Davis spoke with emotion about how humbling it was for him to be honored. “I think you’ve got the wrong guy,” he joked, and went on to charm the room with stories about his modest upbringing. He talked about being poor, about being bullied because of his size, and about not knowing his dad until he was 30. But he also talked about how his mom, Jana Harris, told him he could be anything he wanted to be.

“Thanks, mom,” he told her from the podium. “We didn’t have much of a pedigree, but you are a champion.” Harris was in the crowd along with Davis’ wife Marguerite and four of their six children: Jackie, Kristen, Eddie and Dylan.

After a rousing ovation for Davis, who received a handsome commemorative serving platter, guests flocked to the dinner stations. The hands-down crowd favorite was the Retro Malt Shop, with bacon cheeseburger sliders, onion rings and fries, coleslaw, and mini chocolate and vanilla milkshakes. Also popular was the Mediterranean station, with delicious spanakopita, falafel, moussaka and chopped Greek salad.

Auctioneer Dr. Mark Fruiterman took the floor as dinner was winding down to auction off a private cooking show and brunch for 10 at the Hall of Springs, won by John and Robyn Kelly; an equestrian-themed charm bracelet from Frank Adams Jewelers, won by Mary Catherine White; two year-long private parking spaces in The Saratogian private parking lot, won by both former jockey and ESPN broadcaster Jerry Bailey and Michele Madigan; and a day schooling horses with Davis, himself, won by Shen’s Becky Carman after a bidding war with Rick Lewis.

Carman was doubly thrilled when Davis told her to bring her whole family to his farm in Middle Grove. Turns out Davis is Carman’s husband’s favorite jockey of all time.

There was also an impressive collection of silent auction items. A trio of bobble-head toys of Todd Pletcher, Jerry Bailey and Angel Cordero, donated by the Tirelli family and autographed by Pletcher and Bailey generated a lot of interest. Other sought-after items were a bounce house party from Fun “N” Jump Bounces, four passes to the Great Escape and a gas grill and accessories donated by Lowe’s and Just Meats in Malta.

For entertainment, guests posed for photo magnet giveaways by FotoMagic and music was by the dynamic Garland Nelson and his band Soul Session. One of the first couples on their feet was Bailey and wife, Suzee, who showed some stylish dance moves to the tune, “Runaround Sue.” Also on the dance floor was a group of Lake Avenue Elementary School moms, recruited by Deirdre Ladd, who turned the fundraiser into a stylish girls’ night out.

Other supporters there included Saratoga Schools Superintendent Dr. Janice White and husband Terry; Bob Lindsey, president and CEO of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, with his wife Cassandra; Shenendehowa Schools Superintendent Dr. Oliver Robinson; Mayor Scott Johnson and wife Julie; Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, who presented citations to the Prevention Council and Robbie Davis; Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco and wife Corrine, Stephanie Veitch, who sent regrets for her husband Matt, who was unable to attend; Clark Brink and Paula Schewe; Ray and Mary O’Conor; Charles Wait, Jr. and wife Natalie; Bob Manfuso and Katy Voss of Chanceland Farm; and Prevention Council board member and gala chairman Derrick LeGall and wife Vernessa.

Also seen in the crowd were City Attorney Joe Scala and wife Molly, who is a Prevention Council board member; Doug Mills and Meg Kelly; City Court Judge Jim Doern and wife Miriam; Saratoga Springs Police Lt. Greg Veitch with wife Jennifer, and former D.A.R.E. Officer Tony Straus.

It was touching to see the Davis family lingering after many other guests left, dancing, laughing and taking pictures. They couldn’t have been more appropriate role models at a Prevention Council event: a family enjoying each other’s company and having fun.

The event raised $35,000 to benefit the Council’s vital programs and services throughout Saratoga County.

Society columnist Jeannette Jordan’s Inside Saratoga runs every Tuesday and Friday during racing season. Send news to Call 584-6620 or send articles to 13 Elizabeth Lane, Gansevoort, NY 12831.