Glendale News-Press: Campbell Center Wins Big with ‘Derby Dollars’

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By Ruth Sowby Rands

The Campbell Center was off to the races earlier this month for its 24th annual “Run for the Roses” Derby Day held during the Kentucky Derby Race, natch. The Royal Crest Room of Burbank’s Pickwick Banquet Center easily held the 250 or so supporters ready to “gamble” with their “Derby Dollars.”

That means derby horses could be selected on betting forms supplied by “Roving Bookies.” The bet also had to contain the race number, horse’s number, the selection of “Win”, Place,” or “Show” and the amount of Derby Dollars to be wagered.

Derby Dollars started at $5 for 100 up to $100 for 2,000. The big winner turned out to be Mike Velasquez.

But if betting wasn’t your thing, there were other ways to spend money — all for charity, of course.

The afternoon’s expected proceeds in the neighborhood of $100,000 will fund programs and services for the developmentally disabled adults served by the Campbell Center, formerly the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded.

A silent auction awaited the early birds greeted by center clients in full plantation regalia. Large, flowered hats prevailed.

A sumptuous buffet filled tummies. Top sirloin, salmon and veggie skewers were the order of the day. A busy bar provided a variety of libations. Bloody Marys seemed to be the drinks of choice.

All preceded a fast-paced program starting with a welcome by Glendale Police Lt. Lola Abrahamian, who is president of the Campbell Center Foundation Board.

“The Glendale Police Department has been a staunch supporter of the Campbell Center for many years,” Abrahamian said. To that end, the department’s Explorers helped the day’s activities run smoothly, including helping out with parking, Derby Dollars betting and a 50/50 cash pool.

Four Explorers doing the honors were Glendale residents Julian Talamantes, 18; Arian Creet, 14; and Matthew Concepcion, 15, while Leo Davoodianes, 18, represented the Tujunga contingent.

Ardy Kassakhian, master of ceremonies and Glendale’s city clerk, introduced Glendale VIPs present including Glendale City Council members Paula Devine and Laura Friedman.

Then came the “Best Hat Contest.” Alessia Filocamo, 10, of Long Beach was crowned the winner. She wore a white picture hat, sporting a big blue fabric blossom. The color matched her summer frock. Filocamo held a doll with a miniature version of her hat and dress. Mom, Dixie Branch, admitted she helped put together the winning combination.

The heart of the program was the awarding of the Campbell Award of Excellence (named after center founders and namesakes Phyllis and Jerry Campbell.)

Stepping up to receive the award from Kassakhian were honorees Vincent and Toni Beck Espinoza. The Espinozas are longtime center supporters.

Vincent Espinoza was a product coordinator for Pacific Fire Safety. A member of Kiwanis, he also currently serves on Glendale Arts’ board of directors and the governing board of the Campbell Center.

Toni Beck Espinoza is a certified financial planner and is also a member of Kiwanis, having been recognized as Kiwanian of the Year. On stage with his parents was their oldest son, Vinny Espinoza, 22, a student at Cal State Los Angeles. Cellphone cameras snapped to capture the handsome family.

A lively, live auction followed. Auctioneers were actress Mariette Hartley and film producer husband Jerry Sroka. To add to his credits, Sroka is a graduate of the Geneva Auctioneering Institute at Bid More U.

Among the more popular items was a three-course dinner with wine for eight prepared in the host’s home by Sandy Contreras, Campbell Center’s chief executive. However, because the catered dinner was so popular with bidders, Contreras offered to prepare two more dinners for a grand total of $2,100, which was added to live-auction coffers.

The 141st Kentucky Derby broadcast from Churchill Downs on two giant screens ended the busy and fruitful afternoon of getting and giving. Incidentally, American Pharoah crossed the finish line first in a come-from-behind win.

Source: Glendale News-Press