I had the good fortune to be invited to the Benefit for Natalee held in Birmingham on Thursday Evening, the 25th of August. The event was held in a converted warehouse that could hold over 1,500 people. And I have to say, the building was filled to capacity.
The room was decorated with a Wizard of Oz theme, as it is a favorite of Natalee’s while also reminding everyone that “There is no place like home”. The invitation stated that the party was organized by Courtney Cox and David Arquette, as Courtney came from this area, and still has family in the Birmingham area. They famous couple was not in attendance but did provide a video appearance to the event, and helped coordinate a very impressive selection in the Silent Auction.
From my perspective, the organization of the items in the auction was coordinated by the Arquettes, and the coordination on a local level was performed by an amazing group of Mom’s from Mountain Brook. They did a great job of decorating the hall, and organizing the auction so that people could move around in the room even with the crush of people in the room.
The items that were offered in the Silent Auction were amazing. Super Bowl Tickets, a skybox to the Alabama Auburn game, and signed sporting items from almost every team and celebrity in the Southeast. From the Film and Music industry there were a collection of items that were autographed, including movie posters and even a guitars from artists such as Sting, James Taylor, and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. The collection was truly spectacular.
Beth and Jug were in attendance, both of them being great sports in a very difficult situation. Beth was on a perpetual recieving line of well wishers, whom she greeted with grace and dignity that was beyond anything I could have imagined in that situation. Other family members were in attendance, and a cadres of student helpers provided the support functions to keep the evening running smoothly. The students were dressed in yellow shirts that said on the front …for Natalee .
Talking to an organizer, there were over 1500 people invited for a facility that could hold 1,500 people, and that is what necessitated making the event an invitation only affair. They would have loved to have all who wanted to attend come, but the logistics would have been impossible to manage.
Towards the end of the evening, there was a video presentation featuring pictures of Natalee to the sounds of a beautiful song written by Erika Harvey, and then a video appearance by David Arquette and Courtney Cox.
It was no surprise to me that after reading a report in the Birmingham News, the event raised 110 thousand dollars for the trust. This will go a long way to help pay for all the expenses that are needed to be covered in the search.
Overall, a wonderful evening that allowed me to meet many readers of Scared Monkeys, and help out a cause we all believe in.
To view the invitation in PDF format, click on the image.