By Jason KUROSU
The La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild held its annual authors’ luncheon on Tuesday morning, Oct. 28, the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year benefitting the Orthopaedic Institute for Children (OIC), which is dedicated to the care and treatment of children with musculoskeletal disorders.
Three authors spoke at the luncheon, along with OIC VP and Chief Philanthropy Officer Michael P. Sullivan. Nearly 200 people packed the Angeles National Golf Club for lunch, raffle prizes, a silent auction and book signings with the authors, all for the sake of raising money for a new Orthopedic Ambulatory Surgery Center at the Downtown Los Angeles OIC campus.
According to Sullivan, the OIC has already amassed $5.2 million for the construction of the new surgery center, more than halfway towards its $10 million goal.
“Specialty care counts,” said Sullivan, who cited a University of Maryland study indicating that 93% of children treated in Maryland emergency rooms were splinted incorrectly. “That study is indicative of the need for specialty care.”
Sullivan said that the Ambulatory Surgery Center would allow OIC to aid children in need even when there are financial constraints – an issue that Sullivan said is increasingly more common for children who require specialty care.
A video presentation of actual OIC patients featured children who did not receive the treatment they needed as a result of a lack of insurance, as was the case of Benjamin who desperately needed surgery after a car accident, or misdiagnosis as in Christine’s case, who was told she was suffering from a knee sprain which OIC doctors later determined to be a torn ACL.
In addition to the proposed surgery center, Sullivan said OIC’s future plans include hiring additional faculty, the development of an adolescent sports medicine program and partnerships with sports teams such as the recent partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Three authors also delivered insights into the makings of their upcoming books and were available for book signings.
The first speaker was Chef Cherie Mercer Twohy of La Cañada, who teaches cooking classes and authored three Trader Joe’s cookbooks, which features recipes with ingredients specifically from the famous grocery store.
Twohy spoke with those in attendance about their favorite ingredients from Trader Joe’s, including those no longer in stock there, the “mourned, departed things.”
“It’s such an honor to be here,” said Twohy, who also mentioned that she had her feet braced at the Orthopedic Institute for Children at the age of 2.
Natalie Baszile spoke about the impetus for her first novel, “Queen Sugar.” Baszile’s book centers around Charley Bordelon, a Los Angeles native who finds herself in sudden ownership of 800 acres of land in Louisiana.
Baszile, who hails from Palos Verdes, detailed how several aspects of Bordelon’s life mirror her own and how she went about researching the novel, much of which involved delving into her family’s Louisiana roots.
“I’m a Southern California kid,” said Baszile, but road trips with her father and grandmother gave her an introduction into South Louisiana, which she called a “strange, bizarre, but wonderful place.”
The book was an 11-year endeavor, in which Baszile settled on Bordelon inheriting acres of sugarcane and then Baszile’s subsequent research that took her from her home in San Francisco on several forays into Louisiana.
Baszile also revealed a connection to OIC, as her father served on the OIC board.
“My family has a long and intimate history with this organization,” she said, “so it’s nice to be back here now.”
Author and animator Frans Vischer closed out the authors’ speaking portion of the luncheon with the latest book in his Fuddles series, which highlights the adventures of fat, pampered feline Fuddles, whose curiosity often gets the best of him.
In “A Very Fuddles Christmas,” Fuddles, who is based on Vischer’s real life cat, is chased outdoors after an unsuccessful attempt at scaling the Christmas tree, leading him out in the snow and with nothing but his own wits to get him back home.
Vischer described his introduction into the art world, including attending art school at the California Institute for the Arts and work at the Disney studio. There, he learned to “base everything on real life. Your characters, no matter how strange or stylized their designs were, they had to be based on reality.” This observation of real people and, in this case animals, led to the inception of Fuddles’ fictional, illustrated counterpart.
Vischer also did a live drawing of Fuddles for the audience, creating the cat in a manner of minutes with a marker and easel.
A third Fuddles book is currently in the works, featuring a new character based on the Vischer family’s new dog.
Among all the other prizes and donations from local businesses and charitable organizations which were awarded and auctioned off, Vischer’s impromptu drawing of Fuddles sold for $425.