RSVIP: Anthony Shriver Hosts Best Buddies Gala at Ashgrove Farm
Leafy bamboo in pots swayed in the breezy tents that housed the Southeast Asian-themed Best Buddies Gala at Ashgrove Farm in Watermill on Saturday, August 21. During cocktails, tables packed with silent-auction items also beckoned: tickets to watch the New York Rangers, to catch the "Addams Family" on Broadway, or see Jimmy Buffett in concert. Travel items included a round-trip flight to and from the Hamptons and brightly colored luggage so plentiful, the woman who won it wondered if it would fit into her car.
The famed Robbins Wolfe "eventeurs," caterers in common parlance, served up Masala crab cakes with pomegranate chutney, toasted coconut kahuku shrimp, and Portabello tempura. Yum. Filigreed metal lanterns with votive candles lined the covered walk to the dinner tent, where eight stems of purple orchids in jade bowls were surrounded by shimmering gold chargers on every table.
Anthony Shriver admitted that it wouldn't have been so easy to get his little daughter Carolina to fly down from Hyannis Port with him to Long Island for the Best Buddies Gala except that "Anne [Hearst McInerney, above right] gave her a little baby rabbit the last time we came." He then kidded that Hearst McInerney would provide chickens in the gift bags.
"Last year the theme for the food was Western barbecue," indicated chef Chris Robbins. "This year the Southeast Asian flavors were more intriguing to work with."
Tatiana Platt, far right, co-chair of the event and founder of the "Fame Game" website with her well-known interior designer husband, Campion Platt, also pictured, attended Georgetown University with Shriver. "Anthony started Best Buddies while he was a student," recalled Mrs. Platt, wearing Vivienne Tam and black stiletto boots.
She then noted that all of Eunice Shriver's children, including Anthony, are deeply involved in charities. "Tim Shriver does the Special Olympics, the athletic version of Best Buddies," she said. "Bobby is involved in Red, an organization founded by Bono. As first lady of California, Maria Shriver has focused on women's causes. She also sponsors a conference with women leaders." And Mark Shriver, formerly of the Maryland House of Delegates, is U.S. managing director of "Save the Children." Wow!
Onstage, young Carolina Shriver and her adorable cousin Molly Shriver danced, and Brett Banford, below, right, a young man born with Down syndrome, not only gave an inspirational speech but also displayed much talent when he danced with the curvy winner of "So You Think You Can Dance," Season 5, Jeanine Mason, not pictured. On the second week of Season 5, Banford, who hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, told America, "I'm just here to prove to people that people with disabilities can actually have a normal life and live it, and I'm here to represent . . ."
At the mic, Shriver mentioned that he believed it was important to drag his children along to events such as Best Buddies. "All the money and glamour and incredible houses are great," he said. "But the real thing is to give your kids a sense of service . . . to give back more than just to accumulate possessions. That is what my mom [the late Eunice Shriver] did for me."
Shriver also thanked McInerney and Hearst McInerney for opening their house. "It's a huge intrusion and inconvenience," he said. "And the only other person that entertained like that was my mother." He also mentioned that Maria Shriver and the Hearst family would host the Audi Best Buddies Challenge, 100 mile bike race on September 11 with concert by Natasha Bedingfield at the Hearst ranch in San Simeon, California, where, last year, Best Buddies raised $4 million in one day.
"Sitting with Jay and Anne," said Hamptons Magazine social columnist Debbie Bancroft, "I noticed so many people sincerely thanking them for sharing the emblematic Kennedy moment. When Brett Banford spoke, he was so sincere and unaffected. The unadulterated joy in his face was one of the purest moments of the summer. And when Jeanine Mason danced with him the rest of the night it warmed everybody's heart."
"And at the end of the night, when we were sitting on the porch," mentioned Bancroft, speaking of emblematic moments and Shriver poise, "Carolina and Molly Shriver thanked us and shook all of our hands."