Charitable organizations have long used orchids in their fundraising events.
Partygoers bid on lavish silent auction items which can fetch upwards of five hundred dollars each. Fancy bowls filled with blooming plants, a personal house call from a horticulture expert, and a one year membership in the Orchid of the Month club all garnish attention.
Live auctions can get frenzied as bidders vie for bigger ticket items such as a set of century old botanical prints, an established orchid collection, or the rights to name a new hybrid. Even the seated dinner guests can participate by purchasing the flowering centerpieces which adorn the banquet tables. Orchids add a glamorous element to any function and help to generate revenue for the charity.
Recently, a Beverly Hills, CA non-profit came up with an innovative approach that incorporates orchids into their annual fundraiser. The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, whose mission is “to provide funding for cutting edge cancer research, prevention, and treatment”, unveiled a special cattleya at its “Stand Up 2 Cancer” Tex/Mex Fiesta. The delicate pinky lavender hybrid was named after the organization’s late founder, beloved actress and model, Farrah Fawcett.
Attendees of the event included many of the big names in Hollywood who were peers of Ms Fawcett including Ryan O’Neal, George Hamilton, Cheryl Tiegs, and Foundation President Alana Stewart. The event honored Fawcett’s co-star on the TV show Charlie’s Angels, Jaclyn Smith, and the lively music was provided by Grammy Award winner Lyle Lovett.
A large photograph of the flower was displayed alongside a caption explaining the history of the hybrid. The foundation had worked closely with a grower to get the right color and style. The breeding lineage was all pedigree and the plants took seven years to bloom from seed. The colors were variable and feminine - ranging from blush to pale pink to rose. Well known artist and sculpture, Keith Edmier, created a sculpture of the flower which was auctioned off at the event.
The event raised $500,000. After it was over, the foundation thanked many donors and supporters by giving them their very own Farrah orchid – a keepsake to remember the evening.
But it was more than a keepsake.
The special hybrid, Brassolaeliocattleya Farrah Fawcett (C Bold Swan x Blc Goldenzelle), was an exclusive orchid. There were only a few dozen ever produced and they were all given away to people who care about Ms Fawcett and her cause. Those lucky orchid recipients will rejoice in the legacy and spirit of Farrah Fawcett every year when the lovely blossoms open. www.thefarrahfawcettfoundation.org