Introducing: Dr. Tiziana Filippini, “pedagogista” from Reggio Emilia, Italy; Dr. Stephen Hales, pediatrician and founding board member of New Schools for New Orleans; Deuce McAllister, former running back for the World Champion New Orleans Saints and head of Catch 22 Foundation; and Donald E. Powell, former Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding. What do these four leaders have in common? They were all named “Great Friend to Kids” by the Louisiana Children’s Museum on their 2nd annual awards luncheon, Thursday, June 3, in the Armstrong Ballroom at the Sheraton. The Great Friends’ varied and extensive contributions exhibited “their unsurpassed philanthropy, compassion and commitment to Louisiana’s children,” according to the LCM.

Lunch took place in a setting of whimsy, with centerpieces featuring caterpillars and butterflies amidst magnolia leaves. Co-chairs Kelley Theard and Troy Henry welcomed guests before the banquet. Following, the museum’s Executive Director Julia Bland presented the awards to the four honorees, each of whom spoke to the crowd of around 200. Sponsors of the afternoon were: Azby Fund; Chevron: Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles, LLP; Henry Consulting, LLC; IBERIABANK; Sally and Jay Lapeyre; Luzianne; and Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett.

Proceeds will benefit the Julia Street museum’s programs and exhibits. By “encouraging discovery through observation, inquiry, creative construction, role-playing, problem-solving and free play, the museum motivates children to develop their cognitive, physical and social skills while enjoying fruitful interaction with adults and peers.” Dora the Explorer may be children’s BFF these days, but – along with the Louisiana Children’s Museum – this year’s Great Friends should prove to be long-lasting partners of children.