Red CARpet Charity Preview Gala benefits the Mario Lemieux Foundation and Austin's Playroom Project

February 21, 2012 12:00 am
  • Mario and Nathalie Lemieux.
    Mario and Nathalie Lemieux.
  • Tom and Frances Rohrich.
    Tom and Frances Rohrich.
  • Kelly and Mark Smail.
    Kelly and Mark Smail.
  • John and Loriann Putzier.
    John and Loriann Putzier.
  • Charlie and Latasha Wilson-Batch.
    Charlie and Latasha Wilson-Batch.
  • Jim and Ilene Ross.
    Jim and Ilene Ross.
  • Debbie and Shawn Flaherty.
    Debbie and Shawn Flaherty.
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The Pittsburgh International Auto Show just wasn't the same these past few years without its Red CARpet Charity Preview Gala. Thursday it returned in rare form as a benefit for the Mario Lemieux Foundation and Austin's Playroom Project. This extraordinary effort, headed by Nathalie Lemieux, has built 24 playrooms in Western Pennsylvania so that sick children and their siblings can have a safe and comfortable place to play in a hospital environment. The 25th playroom was opened at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for children of wounded veterans.

Many of the guests were longtime supporters (including former Penguins Randy Hillier and Pierre Larouche), but some were car show aficionados happy to help such a worthwhile cause, raising $75,000. Tom Grealish, president of the Mario Lemieux Foundation, greeted guests after a VIP reception at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Graciously posing for photos with fans and perhaps doing some early car-shopping for 15-year-old Austin were Mario and Nathalie Lemieux.

The evening was presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association & Foundation, headed by John Putzier and board president Mark Smail. Other dealers on the board including Debbie Flaherty (Day Automotive Group), Jeff Smail (Smail Auto Group), Paul Schimizzi (Hillview Motors) and Tom Rohrich (Rohrich Automotive) mingled with guests such as Charlie Batch and Latasha Wilson-Batch, Dan and Mary Beth Bylsma, Dennis and Annie Hanna Cestra, Bob Pompeani and Lemieux foundation director Nancy Angus.

First Published 2012-02-20 23:23:44

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