By Cara Kelly
Celeb: The Lady Vol and winningest coach in NCAA history took time out from March Madness to visit Washington on Tuesday, where she lunched with some of the city’s most fashionable donors.
Cause: Prevention and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation honored Summitt, calling her “an inspiration to us all,” for her work with her own foundation, which she founded in 2011 after announcing she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The Scene: The elegant ballroom of the Ritz Carlton in Foggy Bottom. Lunching ladies wearing Chanel and Dior spring coats tasted avocado gazpacho before watching a fashion show featuring the feminine creations of London-based designer Erdem Moralioglu, who flew in for the event, which was co-sponsored by Saks.The fourth annual luncheon, held in honor of philanthropist Estelle Gelman who died from the disease, featured favorite touches of the George Washington University benefactor: orchid centerpieces and fine chocolates. Pearls from former First Lady Barbara Bush and a nine-week-old Shih-Tzu puppy (another love of Gelman’s) were two of the dozen door prizes that inspired checkbooks to fly out of designer purses, helping meet the foundation’s goal of raising $50,000.
Sound bite: Summitt, who rarely makes appearances as her condition has progressed, greeted the crowd with her former player, Michelle Marciniak, at her side. “I believe that God’s plan for this amazing woman was only half realized at the end of her coaching career.” Marciniak told the crowd. “And this time she has a much bigger stage, from impacting hundreds of thousands on the sidelines, to now influencing millions through Alzheimer’s. The thing I admire the most about my coach is the public way that she is dealing with this incredibly life threatening disease.” Summitt followed the heart-felt praise, saying “every day is a day that I want to be there.”