Mad as a hatter
Guests step through the looking glass to support the Sexual Assault Center
Patrons followed the rabbit hole to the 22nd floor of the Pinnacle building at Symphony Place for Mad Hatter, an auction and dinner in support of the Sexual Assault Center. Co-chairs Cara Alexander and Cyndee Ragan Martin transformed the space into a green-tinted wonderland where guests could nibble on scrumptious hors d’œuvres, such as bacon wrapped quail bites, and sip specialized libations like the Mad Hatter signature cocktail adorably adorned with a wooden swizzle stick printed with the words “Drink Me.” A silent auction boasted a bevy of items up for bid, including everything from a Tory Burch Robinson satchel to a Bonnaroo VIP package. Guests hoping to sidestep the nail-biting suspense of auction bidding could pluck ready-to-purchase items from the Giving Tree, ranging in value from $20 to $200.
As the cocktail hour and silent auction winded down, the festivities continued with a delicious three course dinner, catered by Sargent’s. While enjoying spectacular panoramic views of the city, guests noshed on mixed green salads topped with Granny Smith apples, Manchego cheese and walnuts followed by stuffed flank steak with spinach and garden herb cheese spread, roasted red bliss potatoes and French green bean almondine. Hat boxes planted with greenery and wildflowers provided eye-catching centerpieces while Mad Hatter tags, marked with clever and humorous sayings, offered entertaining fodder to diners. No one needed “Eat Me” instructions to dive into the rum pound cake with fresh lemon curd, vanilla anglaise and fresh berries offered for dessert.
Sexual assault survivor Sandy Madsen, winner of the 2012 Visionary Voice Award, shared her moving and inspiring story after dinner. Fresh off her appearance in the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, supermodel and singer-songwriter Karen Elson closed the evening out with an impressive musical performance.
Providing counseling and education to sexual assault victims and families of all ages, races and genders, the Sexual Assault Center is the only nonprofit of its type in Middle Tennessee. With over 100 victims on the waiting list at SAC, fundraising efforts like Mad Hatter, which raised over $100,000, are so important to the well-being of the organization and the welfare of survivors. It was an important date and no one wanted to be late!
—Nancy Floyd, Photographs by Michael W. Bunch