Lucky 21 proved true once again as the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development (TNDC) Celebrity Pool Toss returned for the 21st year to the Phoenix Hotel/Chambers Eat+Drink. The event was enthusiastically hosted by cookbook author and blogger at TuesdayRecipe.com Tori Ritchie and actor Jason Lewis.
Conceived by Phoenix Hotel/Joie de Vivre founder Chip Conley, the wet and wild evening started with a check-in punctuated by enormous soap bubbles being generated by the San Francisco Bubble Man in the parking lot. Upon entering the large pool deck, the food choices were almost overwhelming, with all stations swarmed by guests. Wonderful poolside libations included the signature beverage “Walker on Water”, named for the 2012 “Top Tossee” Michael R. Walker, Market President for US Bank.
When asked how the event began, Conley explained, “Bought this hotel 27 years ago and wanted to contribute back to the kids in the neighborhood and that’s how we came up with this 20 years ago.”
2013 celebrity tosses included Charley Casey, President of Pacific Foundation Services; James Higa, Executive Director of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation; Jim Losi, Founder of the Rwanda Opportunity Fund; Sharon Seto, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist; Will Thacher, President & CEO of the Market-Turk Company, Bill Witte, CEO of Related California and Lewis Sykes, San Francisco’s “oldest living party planner”. When asked about being tossed, Sykes said, “Obviously I hope I don’t drown. I have jet lag from a trip to Europe and I hope this will wake my up. I was flattered to be asked and am very grateful to many friends who have contributed.”
Each tossee was introduced by a celebrity MC, some of who pledged to be “tossed” next year. The celebrities who provided introductions included Brian Copeland, Comedian/Writer/TV & Radio Host; KPIX-5 sports anchor Vern Glenn; Singer/Actor/Inspirational Speaker Noah Griffin; ABC7 News Anchor Cheryl Jennings; Reality Show Star and Hoodslam Wrestler A. J. Kirsch; Univision SF News Anchor Fabiola Kramsky; CBS 5 – Eye on the Bay/KCBS foodie chap Liam Mayclem and Empress XXX Donna Sachet, TV Host/Performer/Columnist, B.A.R.
Prior to the first toss, guests were treated to a dance troupe and band performance, and then a special texting campaign was initiated live at the event and raised thousands for the college preparation program and Annual College Tour for teen participants from the Tenderloin After-School Program. Co-chairs Laura King Pfaff and Jim Losi welcomed everyone again and introduced Bonhams Celebrity Auctioneer Wes Sparling, who helped keep the “bidding” lively prior to each toss.
The bidding worked – as more than $261,000 was raised this year, with Charlie Casey raising the most. Tenderloin Neighborhood Development provides affordable housing and services for low-income people in the Tenderloin and throughout San Francisco, to promote equitable access to opportunity and resources. For more information, visit www.tndc.org.