You’d think that an accomplished Broadway artist, backed by a legendary Cleveland pianist and a violinist from the Cleveland Orchestra, would be the show stopper of Cross Out Cancer: Supper Club on the Shore. And Betsy Werbel, with her local roots and New York stage presence in such blockbuster musicals as “Wicked” and “Les Miserables” certainly raised the tent top with her soaring voice. Mike Petrone, longtime piano man at Johnny’s Downtown, and Emma Shook on strings, backed Werbel across the music spectrum, from “I Had a Dream” to “Natural Woman” to “My Favorite Things.”
No, another star of the evening gave a more brilliant performance. Even Betsy Kling, the evening’s emcee and WKYC’s chief meteorologist who knows a thing or two about weather, praised the atmospheric elements
that aligned for a spectacular sunset over Lake Erie. And the sun did not disappoint. Neither did the sold-out crowd of 260 patrons, who sipped cocktails on the lakeside lawn then dined elegantly under the big-top tent. The evening had a serious aim, though. Event co-chairs Ryan Cross and Geoff Masten, Betsy Kling, Bob Serpentini of the presenting sponsor Serpentini Auto Group, and Patti DePompei, president of Rainbow Babies and Children’s, all told stories about the insidious touch of cancer. They also emphasized the groundbreaking immunotherapy program repelling the disease underway at UH Seidman Cancer Center and Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at UH Rainbow Babies.
“Immunotherapy is the process of empowering a patient’s own immune
system to identify and attack cancer cells,” Kling said. “It is capable of transitioning cancer from a fatal disease to a managed, chronic condition similar to diabetes or asthma.”
The live auction during dinner offered an array as enticing as the demi-glaced petite filets and Aukra salmon. A sampler: dinner for six at the Marble Room, Wente wine tasting for 12 locally, watching a Cleveland Guardians game from manager Terry “Tito” Francona’s personal seats, even a week’s stay at a French villa on the Mediterranean coast, and others.
Bob Serpentini came with one and ended up donating three outings on “Shooting Star,” his super sleek 63’ RIVA yacht, cruising to Vermillion for dinner at Chez Francois. When the auction tables closed, the true stars of the evening were the patrons, raising $285,000 to bolster the fight against cancer. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PEGGY TURBETT