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Michael Barnes

Celebration of Life: The consummate benefit luncheon

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The Celebration of Life, which benefits the Seton Breast Care Center and the Zeta Foundation, is the consummate Austin luncheon.

Although longer than the typical business luncheon, it wastes no time. Each classy element falls into place in just the right space at just the right moment.


Perri Beathard and Cynthia Harkness at Celebration of Life Luncheon for breast cancer causes.

Mixing around the lobby’s pop-up shops and Fiat raffle blend into the brisk seating of 700 or so women — and a few men — at tables along an extended runway in a large JW Marriott ballroom.

The lights dim. (A crucial but oft-ignored tool.) The place hushes.

An upbeat Zeta Tau Alpha Think Pink video unspools before KVUE news anchor Terri Gruca fluently introduces the Neiman Marcus Art of Fashion runway show. Expertly lighted, the crisp affair streamed the luxury store’s sometimes whimsical apparel along thematic currents.

Now, face it, most of these daytime fashion shows go on too long. Not this one.

A thankfully light lunch precedes a Celebration of Life video that leaves few dry eyes in the house and a slide show of survivors and those we have lost in the past year.

A short list of the top socials nearby: Carla McDonald, Mary Herr Tally, Donna Stockton Hicks, Andrea McWilliams, Nina Seely, Marcia Levy, Susan Lubin, Mary Ann Heller, Cynthia Harkness, Sarah Mansour, Venus Strawn, Cherie Matthews, Alisa Weldon, Lynn Yeldell and Kathy Blackwell. Come to think of it, sponsor Eva Womack must be here, too, but I missed her.

And oh yes, some men.