(click here to see photos from this event)
“An Affair to Remember: Sweet Memories” at the DuPont Country Club’s Brantwyn Mansion was just that. The soiree, to support the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, was the perfect Sunday event to unwind, chat and mingle. The mansion was well-appointed with a fantastic spread, featuring some of Gabby’s favorite Delaware goodies: my “no carbs” promise went out the window as soon as I spied Kathy and Robert Cappiello slinging their delicious Great Harvest Bread Co. loaves. I don’t know what I was eating—something zesty and Italian, with an olive-oil based drizzle—but it was fabulous. Wilmington’s Cupcake Kaboom! brought the noise with lots of sweet treats, and partygoers were serenaded by Wilmington’s own “Frank Sinatra Idol” winner Sean Reilly.
Of course, the main event was all about honoring a few darn good men, John Panico Sr. and Joseph McCaffery, who lead the Men’s Support Group, a band of brothers committed to supporting the Alzheimer’s community, the organization, and most importantly, each other. Made up of 30 guys, they’ve raised close to $63,000 for the organization. “When my wife, who passed away, first got the disease, I knew nothing about it,” Panico told me. “But I went [to the office], got some literature … anyone who needs help, that’s the place to help. They were just wonderful.” Panico, proud as a peacock, had a room full of Panicos there to support him, but was low-key about his honor. “This is just everyday life for me,” he said.
In the main room, Katie Macklin, executive director of the Delaware Valley Chapter, introduced U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, a longtime supporter of the association. After Carper shared some personal stories about his mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, a few men’s group members were presented with a special pin from the chapter’s Claire Day. McCaffery’s hilarious yet heartfelt speech—he led with “I’m the designated driver, so I’d ask that next year, the bars open a little earlier”—completely won over the crowd, and this is what I’ll remember most: There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.