To create just the right setting for the launch of the Friends of Brain Injury Association of Louisiana (BIALA), the organization turned to Kathleen and Ben Waring, whose home was the site for the party on Sept. 16. The Warings, along Eileen and Gene Gambel, were among those who founded the Secret Garden Tour in 2005, which merged with the BIALA last year. (Both had similar missions.)
BIALA helps professionals, survivors and families with awareness, advocacy and resources, and is the only organization of its kind in the state. It is also an affiliate/chapter of the United Spinal Association.
The home lent itself to the indoor garden party theme - with a blue and white decorative scheme for tablecloths, china, flowers, and linens. Royal Artists' flowers from Mardi Gras floats were used as centerpieces on some tables, adorned the front door, front and back staircases and living room breakfront. Rooms were draped with smilax vine (donated by Kim Starr Wise) and Japanese lanterns hung were placed by Sapphire Events and Gregg Porter. Another point of interest were the masks created by people with brain injuries who participated in BIALA's "Unmasking" art therapy project that the organization is doing throughout the state.
The sit-down dinner was catered by Langenstein's, Mr. Ed's Oyster Bar and Fish House, and Laura Arrowood Catering. Kitty D' Litter and the Ladies of Petronius both served the food and provided entertainment for the party crowd, which included Waring family members, sisters Ellie Waring and Nina Waring, who was accompanied by Dun McIntosh, Dr. William Waring accompanied by Dot Weisler, Dr. Phyllis Waring, and William Vollenweider. Also part of the crowd were board Chair Paul Genco, Michael Frenzel and Anne Marie Marmande Frenzel, Janet Clarke and Richard Nick, Ashley and Dr. Korak Sarkar, Karen Roy, Kathleen Mulvihill, Karen and Dr. Glenn Barnett, Holly and Geoffrey Snodgrass, Maryanne Van Meter and Jean Lapeyre, Susan and Kathryn Burkenstock, Grace Kaynor, Drs. Randa and Freddy AbiSamra, Adrienne Hammer Rynning and Jonathon Rynning, Cecile Picou, Cathy and Dr. Richard Scribner, Jake and Kevin Thomas, Linda and Larry Abbott, and Nicole Marquez, a BIALA board member and motivational speaker who spoke about her own experiences with a brain injury: nine years ago, she fell from the roof of a six-story building, resulting in traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries. Told she would be in wheelchair for life, treatment and perseverance got her to walk.