Machel's Ranch

Charity events, smart women and an inspirational story

Do you believe in angels? I do. I have never seen one in person, but have often thought, in retrospect, after meeting someone under an odd circumstance, that that person could have been an angel. Recently, I watched a show called “Angels Among Us,” which is a television series based on those individuals that believe their lives were altered or saved by their guardian angel. This particular episode focused on the 9/11 attacks. It told of the surreal accounts of victims trapped inside the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.  The most amazing account was by the last victim to be pulled from Ground Zero, Genelle McMillan.
Genelle McMillan was buried alive under 110 stories, trapped beneath the rubble for more than 27 hours. Originally, Genelle said prayers, asking that she would die quickly because rescue seemed impossible. However, as she recounted this horrific event, she said she then began thinking of her family over and over, and she decided to pray for a miracle.  Within a few hours of that prayer someone grabbed her one free hand that was stretched out between the rubble and debris. “Don’t worry Genelle, I’ve got you.” He said his name was Paul. Genelle recounted how she held onto Paul’s hand for hours until suddenly she heard voices close by, and that was when he let go. Genelle McMillan became known as the last survivor pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.
While the rescue teams all wore gloves, Paul did not. No one had seen Paul when they dug beneath the rubble and there was no feasible way someone could be there. Who was Paul? One may never know, but Genelle believes it was her guardian angel. How inspiring it was to hear her recount and share her story. Just remember, while life sometimes can feel bleak or difficult, take comfort in the unseen angels that I feel definitely walk amongst us.
On Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, Krista Laffety and fiancé Mike Confer competed in an event in Northern California touted as the toughest event on the planet: the “Tough Mudder.”
If you are around town much during the day or happen to be in the Rotarian circle here in Rancho Santa Fe, there is a good chance you know Krista. One of my best friends over the last few years, we have shared many fun times working together in the newspaper publishing business. The course was 12 miles long with 19 obstacles, including an elevation gain of 3,000 feet! Wow. Mike came in fifth place with a time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Then he competed again alongside his future bride, which sounds like true love to me. Here is a photo of the dynamic duo soon-to-be-betrothed. Congrats on finishing and participating in this event!
In Southern California on those same two days, “Fresh Start Surgical Gifts” had a successful Surgery weekend. Thirteen patients received reconstructive surgery from this charity dedicated to helping disfigured children start their lives over again. There were over 70 volunteers over the course of this special weekend. Featured here is Doug Davis from Kearny Person Ford with Amanda Thompson. Amanda is the development manager at Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. Site SoCal, San Diego Count Ford, and The Parker Foundation were also sponsors for the surgeries that weekend. For more information on this wonderful charity, here is the website:
On Sept. 22, Fashion Week came to Rancho Santa Fe at the 54th Annual Country Friends Fashion Show. This was 7th consecutive year that Country Friends has partnered with South Coast Plaza. Did you know that in the last 55 years this amazing organization has raised over $12 million for charities and worthy causes for the San Diego County? How amazing! This year the streets in the Ranch shut down, traffic was diverted, while many beautiful women decked out in their elegant hats and dresses and chic fashions filled the greenbelt area adjacent to the Inn. Featured here in this beautiful photo from that day is Co-Chair Melanie Cruz with friends, plus a gorgeous snap shot of one of the models on the runway. Interesting fact: I met my husband for the first time in 2006 at this event and still remember the pinned striped shirt he was wearing, white slacks with Louis Vuitton black loafers. Due to a heavy writing schedule, this was my first year to miss the event since 2005. Luckily, Melanie was kind enough to share this photo. My girlfriend, Bianca Macaluso snapped the photo of the model for me, too. Thanks! I must add Lemon Twist Fruit Stand was also a proud sponsor that day. They donated chocolate covered strawberries for the afternoon dessert.
Later that evening, just around the corner in La Jolla, Priscilla Wood joined fellow members of SMARTY at Symbolic Motor for the “So you Want to be An Entrepreneur” event. This group isn’t just about being smart or looking good, this group creates an environment for businesswomen to mingle, find more opportunity by encouraging one another and in the meantime having, fun, too. Each event photo always looks like something off the red carpet from a Hollywood movie premier, just like this photo for example. Priscilla is featured with Elise Muhawi and Cassie Weiner Piasecki. For more information on this savvy group of together women, please check out their website at
On Sept. 28, I received some exciting news about one Ranch resident, Violet MacDonald’s granddaughters, Reese MacDonald. Reese is playing soccer this fall for the Del Mar Sharks team. Reese is featured here with her best friend Alexi Aloni and teammate Stephanie Fuller. Doesn’t this photo capture the innocence of youth and the exuberance of friendship? A must share for this week’s column for sure…I know Violet must be a very proud grandmother! Violet is active in the Rancho Santa Fe Garden and can be seen around town enjoying fabulous lunches with friends. She is also the mother-in-law of Meredith MacDonald.