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Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid

Early in “Casablanca,” the owner of Rick’s Cafe Americain declares, “I stick my neck out for nobody.” It takes a lot of sprockets for his old flame, Ilsa, to rekindle Bogart’s faith in humanity. Morocco’s a long way from Malibu in that, here, a certain idealism flourishes.

Nowhere will faith and hope be expressed more generously than at Saturday’s gala fund-raiser, “A Night in Casablanca.” The second annual Dolphin Ball is sponsored by the Cystic Fibrosis Guild of Malibu to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The Malibu guild was formed last year, when it was learned that a second child in the community was stricken with CF, the most common lethal hereditary disease in the United States.

Doctors confirmed their diagnosis of Kayleigh MacGregor while the infant was confined to intensive care, during which time two delicate intestinal surgeries were performed. After six weeks, Kayleigh came home, requiring a lifelong regimen of daily physical therapies to aid breathing, supplemental enzymes to enable digestion and other special medications. The happy, healthy toddler is now 20 months old.

Jordan McCarthy, a bright and outgoing Webster student, is scheduled to speak at Saturday’s fund-raiser. The fourth-grader was born in a breakthrough year for CF research. In 1989, doctors at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto isolated the gene associated with CF.

Four decades ago, these youngsters would have only the slimmest chances of ever reaching the first grade. Today, thanks to advances in treatment designed to improve lung function, reduce respiratory infection and arrest poor development due to inadequate weight gain, the median life expectancy has risen to 31 years. A total of nine human gene therapy research studies currently are underway at university medical centers across the nation.

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Malibu’s first Dolphin Ball raised nearly $70,000 for CF research. This year, more than 300 supporters already have signed on for the event.

According to Cheryl Sanders, a committee chair, guests of the Hazard estate in Serra Retreat will enter the gala via a Moroccan marketplace street scene. They’ll dine and dance in the ambience of Rick’s nightclub. Later, they’ll retreat to a cozy cognac tent, replete with Persian rugs, bellydancers and casino gaming with faux Moroccan currency in play.

Jacklyn Zeman, known to the school set as Jackie Gorden, is delighted to return as emcee. “They’re so close to a cure for this disease,” she says. “It will definitely happen within Kayleigh’s lifetime.” The 21-year veteran star of “General Hospital” welcomes super guy Dean Cain as her co-host. His Malibu mom, Sharon Cain, is a Dolphin Ball committee member.

In true Hollywood Canteen style, more entertainers are expected to turn out than at any charity event in recent Malibu memory. Rick Springfield and his drummer, Jack White, currently on tour, have indicated they’ll drop in to join Prescott Niles. (If you have to ask who they are, you don’t live here.)

Vocalist Cassandra Delaney Denver presides over cocktails as Casablanca’s “guitar girl.” Jazz and blues singer Naomi Louise Warne is accompanied by Thomas Dawson (Commodores) on piano and backed up by Malibu High songbirds Lily Ashwell, Tyler McCormick and Samantha Silna. Mindy McCready joins the ladies at Rick’s.

For dancing, the Casbah cranks it up with Roger Cain’s band, Catch 22. Add to it a surprise saxophonist and possible performance by the evening’s guest auctioneer, Lou Diamond Phillips, and you have one fun “Night in Casablanca.”

The Dolphin Ball, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m. at the Hazard estate, black tie or white dinner jacket. Honorary chair, Linda Hamilton; Co-chairs, Sally Dibaei and Dianette Strange; Committee chairs, Rebecca Carlson, Gail Copley, Chris MacGregor, Debra Prince, Cheryl Sanders, Paige Smith; Medical advisor, Dr. Stacey D. Smith. Reservations accepted through Friday morning: 479-8585.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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