Founding mothers

It was a love-in for Womens Way Thursday night, when more than 1,300 guests turned out at the Sheraton City Center Hotel to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the nation's oldest and largest women's funding federation. Brenda Jorett of WHYY's

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led a spirited discussion of women's issues with Gov. Rendell, feminist Eleanor Smeal, and author Rebecca Walker. In recognition of the pro bono work that law firm Ballard Spahr has continuously provided Women's Way since the nonprofit's founding in 1977 - when civic leader Ernesta Ballard enlisted her husband's firm to help form the organization - Womens Way awarded the firm its prestigious Leadership Award. Taking a bow for Ballard were partners Sally Steffen and Lynn Axelroth and associate Lauren Tasca. The event raised about $450,000.

Home-court advantage

The basketball coaches from Temple, St. Joe's, Drexel, La Salle, Penn and Villanova and their wives put on a full-court press April 28 for the Fourth Annual Coaches vs. Cancer BasketBall Gala at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue. They raised $460,000 for the American Cancer Society, up from $375,000 last year. Also in on the action was Norm Stewart, former Missouri head basketball coach, who was honored as founder of the Coaches vs. Cancer program. The top auction item was spending a day with Gov. Rendell, which went for $41,000. Holding the winning raffle ticket for the treasure chest, a cache of diamond jewelry worth $10,000, was Sylvia DiBona, widow of former Independence Blue Cross president and chief executive officer Fred DiBona.

Batting a thousand

The Bethesda Project, which has provided housing, shelter and services to the homeless in Philadelphia since 1979, hit a grand slam at its 10th Annual Auction & Party May 1 at Citizens Bank Park's Diamond Club. With the Phillies on deck as lead sponsor, Granary Associates chairman Jim Eastwood as honorary event chairman, and Wills Eye Health System chief executive officer Jim Mulvihill as auction committee chairman, the event drew 325 guests and raised $152,000, an increase of $62,000 from last year. Top auction items included a trip for two to London for $4,250 and LASIK eye surgery for $3,000. The proceeds will support Bethesda Project's 12 shelters and residences, located throughout Center City.

Fashion forward

More than 300 fighting fashionistas, led by designer Nicole Miller, took the New Hope home of Jill and Dan Romanelli by storm April 27, all for a good cause: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Jill; Mary Dougherty, owner of the Nicole Miller stores in Philadelphia, and Norma Munoz banded together to organize the event, "Wild for the Cure," which featured a boutique in the house, with 10 percent of sales going to the foundation. By evening's end nearly 100 guests, including the Eagles Cheerleaders, were decked out in Nicole Miller. Hot auction items included two exclusive tickets to the Nicole Miller Fashion Show in Bryant Park during Fashion Week and a bridle of champion racehorse Smarty Jones, donated by Cyndi and Randy Chapman. The event, inspired by Jill and Dan's son, Daniel Romanelli, who has juvenile diabetes, raised about $120,000 for the foundation.

It's in the stars

Inspired by Galileo the man and

The Life of Galileo

the play, the Wilma Theater has initiated an award named for the Italian physicist and provocateur. Receiving the theater's first Galileo Award for "innovation in building community" Friday night at the Crystal Tea Room was Drexel University president Constantine Papadakis. The theater's annual gala also featured a cabaret with performances by Broadway singer Alison Fraser (

The Secret Garden

), cabaret chanteuse Lee Lessack, and Matt Duke. The hot auction item was two tickets (seventh row, center) at Citizens Bank Park to the July 19 Police concert, which went for $1,100. The gala, chaired by Roger and Georgeann Ballou, raised about $215,000.