In order for this year’s Captain Planet Foundation gala co-chair Cara Isdell Lee to fit into the chic couture created especially for her for the upcoming December 6 fundraiser at the Georgia Aquarium, she had to bang back quite a few cans of Coke this fall. Yes, you read that correctly. And technically speaking, for Lee’s dress to exist at all, she and her friends, her husband, her hairdresser, her babysitter, her babysitter’s boyfriend and even the dress designer, Savannah College of Art & Design graduate Rachel Henderson were required to empty approximately 130 cans of Coca-Cola in its trademark red can. It took that many aluminum vessels to create the hand hole-punched sequins for Lee’s red and silver recycled eco-friendly outfit.
Blessedly, as the daughter of former Coca-Cola Company chairman and CEO Neville Isdell and the wife of Coca-Cola Refreshments district sales manager Zak Lee, she had a few resources for the fizzy brown liquid. “It’s been crazy around here!” Lee allows, laughing. “We drank about 70 percent of it throughout September and October. I think my husband was secretly thrilled. It couldn’t be Diet Coke or Coke Zero either. It had to be the original in order for the design to work.”
As her six-year-old son Rory watched a Captain Planet and the Planeteers cartoon on DVD in the next room, Lee explained her motivation for co-chairing this year’s benefit for the eco charity. “It’s really about what we do now to preserve things for the next generation and what we instill in them,” she explained. “It’s so important for him to realize how the world is changing and that we need to do something about it.”
Lee knew the ecology lessons she and Captain Planet were teaching Rory were paying off this month when the family attended a birthday brunch at a friend’s house. “Suddenly, I heard Rory ask, ‘Excuse me, where’s your recycling bin?’” she recalls. “It was a big aha! moment for me. It’s just part of his every day life.”
Receiving this year’s Captain Planet Foundation Protector of the Earth Award is consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, who, as we all learned watching Smyrna gal Julia Roberts snag an Oscar for her portrayal in the 2000 film, was the force behind nabbing the largest environmental injury settlement in U.S. history. “She’s a legend,” says Lee. “I don’t even know how many times I’ve watched that movie. To be in the same room with her that night will be inspiring for all of us.”
For Lee, another inspirational gala attendee lives a little closer to home — Captain Planet Foundation chair Laura Turner Seydel. “Being able to sit next to her will be a big thing for me,” Lee confides. “Laura is what I one day aspire to become. She’s setting such an amazing example for the rest of us. It’s an honor to be a part of all this.”
The evening will feature a special musical appearance by singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. For tickets and more info about the Dec. 6 gala, go to the event page on the Captain Planet Foundation website.