10th Annual Dolphin Ball puts on the dog

Raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, honorary chair Linda Hamilton will participate in festivities at the annual ball on Oct. 7.

By Melonie Magruder

Special to The Malibu Times

The Dolphin Ball is putting on the dog. After nine years as one of the premier fundraising events benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, held in Malibu each year, the Dolphin Ball celebrates its 10th incarnation with a formal black tie theme. Scheduled for Oct. 7 at a private home in Malibu, the 2006 Dolphin Ball promises elegance and élan to accompany the very serious task of raising research funding for the CFF.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas and, ultimately, the liver. Twenty years ago, children diagnosed with the disease weren’t expected to live to adolescence. Advances in research and clinical treatment have extended not only the life expectancy of those diagnosed, but the quality of life as well.

This year’s keynote speaker at the ball, for the second year in a row, will be 20-year-old Katelyn Salmont. Diagnosed at age two with cystic fibrosis, Salmont grew up with limited abilities to participate in the normal physical life of a child and teenager. Her parents were warned that she might not live past age 16, so her father determined those short years would be as full of life as possible.


“I was smaller than the other kids,” Salmont said, “but my parents were so supportive. Dad made sure that I played soccer, went skiing and learned to ride.”

But as she grew older, it was harder to breathe, even for simple tasks such as carrying a backpack. In December of 2004, Salmont underwent a radically new, therapeutic surgery on her lungs to improve her breathing capacities. “They took lobes from my dad’s lung and from my friend Kathy Oswald’s lung to graft onto my own lung. It was amazing she was a match.” Salmont recounted. “Then, for all of 2005, I couldn’t do anything. Not riding, not swimming. I especially couldn’t go in the ocean.”

A trip to Hawaii earlier this year changed that. “I was actually able to go surfing in Kauai,” Salmont said. “I could paddle out and surf, and it was wonderful!”

Such advances in treatment for cystic fibrosis are due in large part to organizations like the CF Foundation and its fundraisers held around the country.

Malibu resident Mary Hughes-O’Leary is on the organizing committee for the Dolphin Ball and recalled how she became involved.

“My friend Christine MacGregor’s daughter was diagnosed,” Hughes-O’Leary explained, “and, not too long ago, most CF kids didn’t live to see kindergarten.”

MacGregor’s daughter, nine-year-old Kayleigh, is a student at the Point Dume Marine Science School and an active pre adolescent. Thanks to support from the CF Foundation, more and more children across the country are able to, in the words of Katelyn Salmont, “live a totally normal life.”

As a fundraising event, the Dolphin Ball draws some generous donors-both in offerings and bidders. Hughes-O’Leary said they hope that, with the silent auction, they will surpass last year’s take of $320,000. Among other items, guests will be able to bid on a luxurious trip to Mexico, a celebrity ski package, tickets to Miami Heat games and a walk-on visit to the set of a local taping of Donald Trump’s hit reality television show, “The Apprentice.”

This year’s ball is also dedicated to a commemoration of the many volunteers over the past 10 years who helped create the success the event enjoys today. Actress Linda Hamilton retains the post of honorary chair of the Dolphin Ball and will be assisted in her hosting duties by Jacklyn Zeman, a regular on TV’s “General Hospital,” and Tracey Bregman, who appears in “The Young and the Restless.” Entertainment will be provided by the jazz band of Malibu High School alumni and Lenny Goldsmith, R&B frontman of the legendary ’80s group Tower of Power.

Since her surgery a year and a half ago, Salmont rides and competes regularly and is attending College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, with an eye to a business management degree.

“With my new lungs,” she said, “I can really experience life.”

Reservations are $260 a plate and advance tickets for the Oct. 7 event can be purchased by e-mailing/calling Jean Chan at jchan@cff.org or 323.655.8525. Further information can be obtained at: www.cff.org

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

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