Society: Karmanos signature event honors Crains

Chuck Bennett
  • ‘Partners Night’ gala held at the Detroit Public Library
  • More than $900,000 raised at signature fundraiser

The Karmanos Cancer Institute presented its annual “Partner’s Night” on Saturday evening at the Detroit Public Library. A magnificent scenario was created on the front lawn for the cocktail reception, complete with sleek bars, tables, chairs and two sparkling new 2014 vehicles from Chevrolet (the evening’s entertainment sponsor). However, the rain washed out that idea.

But no matter. The 500 guests were ushered inside the monumental library, where the party didn’t miss a beat. The natural beauty of the venue was enhanced with shades of amber, purple and blue lighting, showcasing the remarkable ornate plaster ceilings and breathtaking wall murals. With a “Mad Men” theme, foods from that era — shrimp cocktail, mac and cheese and chicken pot pie — were stationed throughout the library’s third level. During dinner, Nuclassica, a trio of talented musicians, provided the sounds of classic violins with a modern twist.

This year’s Partners event honored Mary Kay and Keith Crain, chairman of Crain Communications Inc., for their longtime support of KCI. The Crains were traveling, so their children, KC Crain and Alexandra Armstrong, were on hand to accept the honor on their parent’s behalf.

“I’m thrilled that this year’s exciting Partners events are honoring my parents — my dad, a two-time cancer survivor treated both times at Karmanos, and my mom, who supported him through his cancer journey,” said KC Crain, a Partners committee member and executive vice president and director of Crain Communications. “They are wonderful ambassadors of Karmanos and tireless supporters of our region.”

There also was a touching tribute to Lil Erdeljan, a prominent Metro Detroit philanthropist who lost her battle with cancer earlier this month.

Immediately following the program, DJ Tom T turned the party up with lively dance music while servers dressed as stylish librarians flooded the structure’s Strohm Hall with book carts full of desserts, hummers and lemon drop and Mojito Jell-O shots. Upon exiting, guests helped themselves to coffee and tea to-go, paired with gourmet cookies, compliments of Sanders Candy.

This year marks the 21st annual Partners Night for the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. Partners is a signature fundraiser that honors outstanding philanthropists who support Karmanos’ exceptional cancer care and state-of-the-science research. Proceeds from Partners support Karmanos’ research. Tickets to this year’s innovative and edgy event were $250, raising in total more than $900,000.

Chuck Bennett is the Fox 2 News Style Ambassador and the creator of the Social D, a website that represents the social side of Metro Detroit. See