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September 16, 2010

On the Road with UMS: Thanks for Your Support!

By Elizabeth (Betty) Palms

By day… the lunch room of building 18 at the NCRC (formerly Pfizer), is a tastefully appointed employee cafeteria.  Voluminous space defined at the far edges by industrial-grade moss green carpet, banks of uniformly gray shaded windows, crisp white walls reaching toward a canopy of exposed architecture.  The perfect environ to lunch with colleagues.

But by night!

When bus #2010 rolled in for On the Road with UMS last Saturday evening, 312 guests were embraced by a very different vibe.  Electric colors — magenta, tangerine, hot pink, lime, mango — filled the room.  Hot salsa beats, by Los Gatos, and syncopated rhythms, by Salvador Torres Mariachi Mexico 2000, claimed the airwaves.  Watermelon, kiwi and orange sangrias, spicy empanadas and tequila-laced popcorn, presented by Food Art, teased the palate. This wonderfully festive transformation was created by Decorations Chair Ruth Petit, Entertainment Chair Susan A. Fisher, Food Chair Janet Torno, Logistics Chair Francine Bomar, and their very talented committee members.  Thank you!

And, many thanks, too, to Sponsor Chairs Joe Grimley and Janet Callaway, and Table Host Chair Melanie Mandell for getting folks on the bus.  Invitations Chair Nancy Stanley and Catalogue Chair Sara Fink, and their volunteers, ensured that all guests on board had ticket, map and itinerary in hand to navigate the event.

And what an event!

Something for everyone.  The festivities began with a Wine Pull, a clever “win-win” opportunity for all.  Each guest who purchased a Wine-Pull ticket walked away with a bottle of wine, either equal or more valuable than the ticket price.  With 100% of the wines donated, then 100% of the proceeds benefit the UMS Education Programs.  Thank you, Agnes Moy Sarns and Lisa Psarouthakis, Wine-Pull Co-chairs, and to every Alumni and AC, Board and UMS staff member who donated wine.

A glorious array of beautifully packaged silent auction items, from Sabor do Brasil: A Bit of Everything Brazilian to a Caribbean Getaway Basket to the Kentucky Bourbon Basket, enticed the guests throughout the first half of the evening.  Kudos to Silent Auction Chair Melanie Mandell and the entire cast of UMS supporters.

At center stage, Live Auction Chair Fran Martin and her dedicated and amazingly resourceful committee assembled the list for the best live auction in town.  Tropical paradise vacations, a heel kicking chuck wagon party,  the ever popular Cabaret Dinner Night, getaways to great American cities,  good times in our town, Ann Arbor, cooking classes, film festivals, museum parties, fires station tours and more.  Muchas Gracias!

Ditto to our “traffic controllers,” UMS President Ken Fischer, our UMS Advisory Committee Liaison, Cindy Straub, the entire UMS Development Department and many other UMS staff who ensured that the evening flowed seamlessly from registration to checkout.

But most of all…

A giant-sized THANK YOU to Eileen Thacker and Melanie Mandell, Event Co-Chairs, who were both the driving force that fueled On The Road 2010 and the navigators that kept our sights on the real destination – raising funds to benefit the UMS Education Programs. OTR 2010 simply would not have happened without the dedication and commitment of these two extraordinary women throughout the past nine months. We, along with the over 25,000 students, teachers and community members who will benefit from the arts experiences UMS brings each year, extend our heartfelt appreciation.

When we think about UMS Education Programs, we tend to think first of the students, teachers and schools who benefit from our efforts to raise funds for these programs.  And, indeed they do.  Funds raised from On The Road have provided students from over 100 schools across southeastern Michigan with the opportunity to experience live performing arts.  However, members of our community, and that includes each of us, are also quite lucky to have access to the UMS Education Programs. Education is the hallmark of our community and puts Ann Arbor “on the map.”  We are very fortunate that UMS offers such an interesting array of lectures, Prelude dinners, workshops, panel discussions, film screening and interactive experiences specifically designed to accompany this season’s performances.

If you couldn’t attend On The Road with UMS, but would like to make a contribution to UMS Education Programs, click here.


Betty Palms has enjoyed music for as long as she can remember, studying piano, participating in Gilbert and Sullivan productions, playing organ in church, and singing in high school choirs and musicals. She came to U-M in 1969 where she met her future husband, Stephen Palms, who is a UMS Board member. Their first shared Choral Union concert was Handel's "Messiah" in 1971. Betty and Steve moved back to Ann Arbor in 2006. In 2007 Betty became a member of the Michigan Theater Foundation Board and began what has become a deep involvement with the UMS Advisory Committee. She and Steve co-chaired the 2009 Ford Honors Program. Betty became an Executive Committee member and now looks forward to chairing the Advisory Committee in the 10-11 season.