Winery fundraiser targets brain cancer

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A partnership between a Walla Walla winery, an Emmy-award winning actress and a Washington nonprofit will raise funds late this month in the battle against brain cancer.

Sinclair Estate Vineyards announced a partnership with the Chris Elliott Fund and actress Jean Smart for a weekend of "mini-celebrations" designed to raise money for the fight against glioblastoma brain cancer.

A winemaker dinner at the winery's downtown Walla Walla tasting room, 109 E. Main St., will kick off the events May 27. The following morning will begin with brunch at Vine & Roses Bed & Breakfast. A reception with wine and appetizers will take place Saturday evening back at the tasting room. All the events will be hosted by Smart, a Seattle native who became a household name during five seasons of "Designing Women" and who has since continued a successful film and television career that has resulted in four Emmy Awards. Smart lost her sister to glioblastoma more than a year ago.

The events will showcase Sinclair Estate Vineyards' wine, including a special chardonnay with the Chris Elliott Fund label. Proceeds from the sale of the wine benefit the charity.

For those not familiar with the cause, the goal of the Sammamish-based Chris Elliott Fund is to end brain cancer through patient advocacy, education and research, proponents said in the announcement. The organization was founded by Dellann and Chris Elliott in 2002, three weeks before Chris' death from glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer.

The Chris Elliott Fund has invested more than $1 million to promote brain cancer research and genetic testing. Dellann Elliott has become a nationally recognized patient advocate and recently testified before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in an effort that helped secure approval of the first device to treat brain tumors.

Tickets to each of the Walla Walla events in two weeks range in price from $100 to $150. Seating is limited. For more information visit: http://www.chriselliottfund.org/events/wine .

A couple more details have emerged about the seats that visitors of Walla Walla's new Power House Theatre will settle into as the venue opens its doors this week. Whitman College recently announced that about 300 seats from the Harper Joy Theatre were donated to support the new Power House Theatre at 111 N. Sixth Ave. The seats became available as part of Whitman's renovation of Harper Joy, which is expected to wrap up this fall.

The initial report from Whitman said the seats had been in service at the theater for more than 50 years. That number struck former assistant professor of theater Parke Thomas as slightly odd, so he contacted Jack Freimann, a former Harper Joy director who retired in 1992 and continues an acting career in New York City.

The seats donated to Shakespeare Walla Walla and its Power House Theatre, they concluded, were actually installed in the late 1980s as part of a renovation of Harper Joy. So what happened to the originals? They were donated to Reed College in Portland, Ore.

The donated seats will be broken in this evening with Shakespeare Walla Walla's "Dangerous Liaisons" gala. "Merry Wives of Windsor" will be performed by the Seattle Shakespeare Company starting Thursday. For more details visit shakespearewallawalla.org, the Destination Walla Walla window or Coldwell Banker First Realtors.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.

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