Fashion with a cause: The balls, galas and the ladies who make them go

Pulling off big, stylish fundraising events is no easy task and the people who do it donate their time as a way of supporting the arts and bettering their community.  Here is a list of the events chaired by our models, along with some of their thoughts about volunteering and the groups they support.

The Symphony Ball, September 8 at The Westin at Crown Center

The theme of the 2018 evening is To Paris With Love. It begins with cocktails and a silent auction, followed by dancing and a performance by Michael Stern and the Symphony. Dancing to Kokomo with Karen Davis will round out the evening.

Laurie Burgess is chairing this year’s ball. The mother of four, and grandmother of 10, has been volunteering for 50 years.

“Classical music performed live stirs my soul and calms my heart,” she says. “We talk about the power of music to enrich our lives and the healing power of music. I can relate to this following knee replacement surgeries.”

Mary Edgar joined the Symphony League in 1999 and has served as ball chairman and president. She and her husband John M. Edgar are honorary chairs this year.

“I was active in the Junior Women’s Philharmonic Association ‘in the old days,’ after falling in love with classical music while attending concerts with my parents,” Mary says. “I joined The Symphony League in 1999. The love of great music plays a large part in our community, and we are all made stronger with that connection.”

Starlight Theatre Gala, 6:30 p.m. September 22 at Starlight Theatre

The evening begins with cocktails in the Helzberg Garden of the Stars, followed by dinner and entertainment on the Cohen Community Stage. Cocktails and dancing in the Applause Club will finish off the evening.

Don and Jean Wagner and the Deramus Family are chairing this year’s event. None was available for our photo shoot, so Carolyn Watley and Ora Reynolds, co-chairs of last year’s gala stepped in.

The Kansas City Ballet, 7:30 p.m., October 6 at The InterContinental Kansas City at The Country Club Plaza

The theme this year is The Emerald City Ball, to celebrate the ballet company’s world premiere of Septime Webre’s “The Wizard of Oz.” The evening will include dinner, cocktails, dancing and a short performance of the premiere. Benefactors are invited to a pre-dinner reception at 6:30 p.m. in the hotel’s rooftop ballroom.

Gigi Rose, chair of this year’s event, studied Latin and notes that philanthropy literally means love of humans.

“It is the giving of money for a purpose that will benefit people, whether by providing for individual needs or by making things such as the arts available to a wider audience,” she says. “I love the beauty of the dance, and when you add the live accompaniment by the Symphony, the Ballet is the perfect medium to appreciate both art forms. My daughter trained in ballet, and my love for it really began while watching her perform.”

Nelson Atkins Museum Gala, 6 p.m., October 6 at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

“An Evening at the Court of Napoleon” will celebrate the opening of the Napoleon: Power and Splendor exhibit later in the month. The evening begins with previewing the exhibit and cocktails in the Bloch Lobby and the Noguchi Court, followed by dinner in Kirkwood Hall.

The co-chairs of the event were unable to make it to our photo shoot, but Chelsea Templeton, who is co-chairing Party Arty 2019 on February 2 with Jaclyn Johnson, was happy to fill in. Templeton is an attorney with the Stinson Leonard Street firm, as well as an avid tennis player who lives in Independence with her husband and several greyhounds.

“The arts are humanity’s greatest history book,” Templeton says. “They simultaneously tell the stories of our past and the hopes we hold for our future. In one walk through the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, you can see glimpses of the human experience from all across the world, spanning thousands of years.”

Kemper Museum Gala, 7 p.m., October 13 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

“Body Electric: Color The Night. Ignite Your Soul.” That’s the theme for this year’s event to which guests are urged to wear electrifying bold color.

Lisa Garney, a lawyer who founded a construction company, believes the economy demands a dynamic and creative workforce and has used the Kemper Museum for corporate meetings to stimulate ideas and growth as a team.

“I’m inspired by creativity and the ability of artists to relate the light and dark sides of themselves through a medium whether it’s song lyrics, a painting, sculpture, architecture, a photograph, film, or dance,” she says.

Her co-chair, Lauren Merriman, grew up in San Antonio, which has always had a robust art scene. She loved going to art events as a girl because they made her feel “mature and cool.”

Now a mother of five, she loves how impactful the Kemper Museum’s school tour program is and how accessible it is to students in general.

“Its programs’ missions are to engage students in discussion about modern and contemporary art, allowing them to make connections between the art of today and their everyday lives,” she says.

Lyric Opera Ball, April 13, 2019 at The Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center

Details are to come on this event, though it will be its 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Ball. After a career in the computer industry, Pam Bruce, co-chair of the upcoming event, has spent the last 30 years volunteering with Junior League, Gilda’s Club, arts organizations and other community and school groups.

She loves giving her time and talents to enhance the lives of others and says “the true meaning of philanthrophy means having no expectations of anything in return—just to know that others’ lives have been improved through my efforts.”

Her co-chair Barb Haviland loves that opera is a celebration of all the art forms rolled into one: Music and song, drama and dance, poetry and storytelling, design and visual arts, and even fashion.

“And opera is so passionate,” she says. “The characters feel so much that words aren’t enough; they have to sing it out with music that melts your soul. Opera reflects human experience so imaginatively and powerfully that every performance is a special, life-changing event.”

Jazzoo, 2019 date to be determined, at The Kansas City Zoo

Our cover girl Kelly Lockton co-chaired this year’s event on June 1 with her husband Ron Lockton. The event draws about 5,000 guests each year to enjoy food from about 70 local restaurants, continuous live music from local artists on five stages and beverages from full and specialty bars.

Gowns: Natalie M., Sincerely Susan and The Gown Gallery. Hair and makeup: Roots & Branches Salon. Location: The Abbott.