The Dream Ball began Thursday evening as a serious night of honor for Ed Shirley of Procter & Gamble and retailer Pete Nordstrom with the purpose of raising nearly $1.9 million for the Look Good, Feel Better program. But the festivities ended with all eyes on that “manly man” with the deep baritone voice from P&G’s Old Spice commercials, Isaiah Mustafa.
After all the speeches, the organizers held an impromptu fund-raiser among the tables to top off the coffers for the American Cancer Society and the Look Good program.
Suddenly, Shirley rose to his feet and announced that Mustafa had volunteered to have himself auctioned off for dinner. A rivalry erupted, initiated by Francine Gingras, formerly of P&G, who kept flashing more fingers in the air and raising the ante past $5,000. Author Geralyn Lucas, who was playing auctioneer, called all six bidding women up onstage and negotiated a settlement — two dinners, with the possibility of a third, for a total of $16,000.
Mustafa had come to the dinner to introduce Shirley, vice chair of global beauty and grooming, and Nordstrom, president of merchandising for the family-owned store — and it was a task Mustafa clearly relished.
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With an exquisite touch of self-mockery, he walked onstage with the comment, “I’m all going to let you catch your breath.” Then Mustafa unleashed the line the audience was waiting for and filled Cipriani’s cavernous room with a booming “Hello ladies.” He then dove into a short reverie filled with Herculean spoof, such as how he spent the afternoon stopping Mt. Everest from turning into a volcano by “blocking 14 million metric tons of lava with my abdominal muscles,” before turning his attention to the honorees.
Shirley was a good sport, opening with, “Hello ladies. Now look at Isaiah, now back to me. Now back to Isaiah, now BACK to me. Sadly, I am not Isaiah.” He spoke of how taken he was with the courage and resourcefulness of the patients that benefited from the program, and he observed, “when you hear the words, ‘I have cancer,’ your first thought is, ‘how can I help?’” That he did. Shirley said he raised P&G’s total contribution by $10,000, increased his own stake by another $10,000 and called some friends to generate another $125,000.
Earlier in the evening, Nordstrom had described his role as supporting the store’s cosmetics merchandising team. But during his speech, he remarked, “no industry comes as close to being as cohesive in rallying around a cause like the beauty industry.”
An earlier rallying cry came from cancer patient Jennifer Griffin, who as national security correspondent for Fox News had made her living covering wars from Kabul and Baghdad. Now in a fight for her life, she urged the crowd to support the program that helped her regain the all-important confidence and self-esteem.
“They gave me my body armor,” she said.
Some music was later provided by Alexa Ray Joel, daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, who sang a number of songs with her band.