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Surfing Austin's social swirl

Michael Barnes, Out & About

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Surfing the social swirl last week: Two small benefits helping Water to Thrive and Symphony of Soul hovered high on the 55th floor of the Austonian, always an inspiring venue. In between, we attended the instructive Philanthropy Day luncheon, where various do-gooders were credibly acclaimed at Hyatt Regency Austin.

Highlights of the Beyond Batten gala included a charismatic set by Australian country rocker Keith Urban. An expert charity video reported the astonishing news that the foundation, just 3 years old, had already funded a general test for hundreds of inherited diseases and is perhaps a year away from clinical trials on a Batten cure.

The Rodeo Austin Gala once again rounded up the biggest herd of guests at Palmer Events Center. Classy chairwoman KaLynn Laney put the numbers, decked out in jeans and bling, at about 2,000. The leadership for Rodeo Austin, as always, welcomed the throngs with forceful friendliness.

CASAblanca for Court Appointed Special Advocates at the Hyatt Regency was all Gigi Edwards Bryant. After we published a column about the businesswoman and advocate for youths, any people confided in me that Gigi was a close friend. That says a lot about this snazzy social star.

Later, like a heat-seeking missile, I homed in on honorees Alisa Weldon and Lynn Yeldell during the Human Rights Campaign gala at the Four Seasons Hotel. They received the group's Visibility Award. Didn't spot the other honorees, former Austin City Council Member Randi Shadeand her partner, Kayla Shell, but noticed that almost every Democratic politician of stature was present, plus a few noteworthy Republican donors.

A stabbing wind nearly knocked me off course to the next party, Diamond Disco for the Travis County Medical Alliance. At the Omni Hotel, I followed the grand staircase to an unfamiliar set of rooms where a modest number of guests, some in 1970s drag, nibbled, sipped and boogied the night away.

Wrapping up Sunday, the Hospice Austin gala at the Hilton Austin delivered the city's least starchy and most egalitarian society presentation. Teens in gowns and tuxes walked the runway, while beaming parents surely congratulated themselves on the relatively painless process — financially and socially — while raising money for one of Austin's most admired charities.

mbarnes@statesman.com