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Best Buddies Gala Is Becoming One Of The Best Charity Parties In The Hamptons

Originally Posted: August 15, 2012

Douglas MacKaye Harrington

Best Buddies founder Anthony Kennedy Shriver with his best girls daughters Carolina and Joey. (Photo: Douglas Harrington)

Water Mill - The Best Buddies Hamptons Gala was once again hosted by Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney at their beautiful Water Mill estate and the evening proved to be one of the highlights of the Hamptons charity season.

Hosts Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney with Atissa Tadjadod of Mont Blanc. (Photo: Douglas Harrington)

After being welcomed at the estate's entrance by four models dressed in Louis XVI period dress, guests were greeted warmly and personally by the hosts and the founder of Best Buddies Anthony Kennedy Shriver and his wife Alina. By its own definition, "Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities." Continuing the Kennedy legacy of public service in general and the seminal work of his late mother Eunice specifically, Best Buddies in its simplest definition is a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program for people with intellectual disabilities founded by Shriver in 1989.

Since its founding, Best Buddies has grown to almost 1,500 chapters on college, high school and middle school campuses around the country and is represented in all 50 states and on six continents. It is estimated that 700,000 intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals and their families will be positively impacted by the organization in the upcoming year through its six specific programs that facilitate friendships, fosters understanding and creates jobs for the intellectually disabled.

Guests were greeted by models in Louis XVI period attire. (Photo: Douglas Harrington)

Volunteerism is at the heart of the Best Buddies program and it is estimated that the time and effort given by the thousands of volunteers around the world would equate to $155 million dollars. This year's Hamptons gala celebrated the inclusion of France a member of the Best Buddies chapters and the French efforts are being generously supported by the seminal luxury writing instruments and timepieces company Mont Blanc, also one of the evening's sponsors. The event's other major sponsors were the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the Hearst Corporation, Tatiana and Campion Platt, Fiji Water, Audi, Patron, Niche Media and Getty Images.

Catching up with Shriver early in the evening his infectious passion for Best Buddies was as always potent, "200 million people around the world are developmentally disabled with 5 million in the U.S. alone and a vast majority of them are still marginalized. The good news is we have got the answer to what needs to happen and with greater funding comes greater impact. It is not like you have some kind of cancer and you don't know how to cure it. We know how to cure it!"

Fabulous R&B band The Stingers kept the crowd dancing and singing all night. (Photo: Douglas Harrington)

The evening started with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and convivial conversation as guests mingled and surveyed the numerous gifts, trips and artwork available as part of the silent auction. The theme of this year's gala was certainly "Vive La France" and appropriately dubbed "Triomphe" with several guests donning berets as part of the festivities.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver with Best Buddies Ambassador Mollie Noble. (Photo: Douglas Harrington)

Once inside the tastefully appointed dinner tent guests were entertained by the terrific R&B group the Stingers, whose lead singers brought various willing guests to the dance floor to sing with them. After the opening set, with everyone settled in their seats, Shriver came to the microphone to thank the guests and acknowledge the generosity of his hosts and co-chairs the McInerneys who were then presented with gifts by Atissa Tadjadod of Mont Blanc. He also thanked past co-chairs Tatiana and Campion Platt and Haley and Jason Binn with all but Haley present at this year's fourth Best Buddies gala in the Hamptons. Other notables at this year's gala included Rick Hilton, Nicole Miller, Donny Deutsch, Katie Lee, Jean Shafiroff, Ambassador John Loeb and his wife Sharon, to name just a few.

Later in the evening special acknowledgement was given to Best Buddy Ambassador Mollie Noble. Well deserved indeed as Ms. Noble represents all the success and potential of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She eloquently addressed the crowd and spoke of the importance of the Best Buddies programs and the impact they have had on her life.

The rest of the evening was a grand party with lots of dancing to and more singing with The Stingers. Many good causes compete for Hamptons charitable dollars and not all are as successful in such a short period of time, but as host Jay McInerney noted, "I think we have finally broken through and people are starting to hear it is a good party and there is just no question about how amazing a cause it is. 20 or 30 years ago mentally handicapped people we tremendously socially isolated and so were their families. Now, thanks in large part to the Shivers, all that has changed and changed around the world."

This year's Hamptons Best Buddies Gala was once again a glorious celebration of the work of a seminal, albeit young, organization that so profoundly impacts the lives of individuals who might otherwise never have the opportunity to live with the dignity and optimism that we take for granted. Best Buddies provides intellectually and developmental people the opportunity live up to their personal potential and achieve goals that might otherwise seem unattainable. Best Buddies should be on every Hamptonian's list for charitable giving this year and every year.

The Best Buddies Gala has quickly become one of the best charity parties in the Hamptons. (Photo: Douglas Harrington)

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Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com Hamptons HamptonsOnline HamptonsOnline

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