Childhelp and Barrett-Jackson’s “Drive the Dream Gala"a Showstopper


ImageThe Childhelp & Barrett-Jackson Drive the Dream Gala was a showstopper. It had it all, from American Idol Season 9 finalist Casey James entertaining and some deserving Childhelp supporters honored, to a plethora of live auction items scooped up by generous donors, and a brave, young woman sharing how Childhelp set her life on the right path. It was a heartwarming affair!

Held June 23rd at the Orange County Fair & Event Center, the fundraiser precluded Barrett-Jackson's three-day Collector Car Event auction over the weekend at the same location. The 250 guests, many of them decked out in western wear, thanks to the "Cowboys, Cars & Stars" theme, gathered in a showcase pavilion for a cocktail reception, where dozens of cars were on view for the upcoming auction. Moving to a large tent for dinner and dancing, Country Music starlets and Nashville's hottest trio Stealing Angels entertained while guests were being seated. All from famous American families, Tayla Lynn is granddaughter to Country Music Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn, Jennifer Wayne's grandfather is the acting legend John Wayne and Caroline Cutbirth is a descendent of frontiersman Daniel Boone.

Mistress of ceremonies Erin Murphy, best known for her role as young Tabitha Stephens on the top TV sitcom Bewitched, welcomed guests and introduced gala co-chairs Patti and Jim Edwards and Diana and Chris Miner, who in turn introduced Barrett-Jackson Chairman Craig Jackson. Jackson recognized longtime friends and avid Childhelp supporters Karen and Barry Meguiar, who were the gala's honorary chairs. "Barry and Karen love the work of Childhelp because it is permanently changing lives inside and out, which hits their hot button," Jackson said.

Childhelp Founders Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Federson had the pleasure of introducing the gala honorees. Jacquie and Michael Casey received the Childhelp Heart of Compassion award for their longtime support. The couple has mentored seven of the most severely impacted children at Childhelp's Village in Beaumont. Federson said, "The compassion they express directly to boys and girls recovering from abuse and neglect allows these little survivors to rebuild trust in a better tomorrow."

Childhelp's Humanitarian Award was given to the Sharon D. Lund Foundation, represented by Michelle Lund, granddaughter of Lillian and Walt Disney, who became early advocates of Childhelp in the '60s. Their daughter Sharon Lund carried forth her parents' passion for brightening the lives of children recovering from abuse, as has Sharon's daughter Michelle. "We thank Michelle and the foundation for lighting the way for thousands of abused children and carrying on a legacy of love," O'Meara said.

The Childhelp message was really brought home when 17-year-old Stephanie Canada stepped to the podium to share her experience with Childhelp. After losing her parents to drug addiction and cancer by age 15 and having moved to five different foster homes, in 2008, Canada found herself at a Childhelp Group Home. "The staff supported me 100%," she said, "and my GPA went from 1.5 to 4.0." Canada became a leader in her group home. "I felt loved and accepted," she said. She credits her group home supervisor Stephanie Daniels with making it possible for her to stay in the home after she turned 16 and with Diana Miner helping her with college. "Every prayer I asked for came true," she tearfully shared. "Childhelp has been a blessing for me."

Patti Edwards, who is Vice President on Childhelp's National Board, spoke about the programs Childhelp offers through its National Hotline, Therapeutic Foster Homes, Group Homes, and, in particular, its work at the Village in Beaumont, California, which serves 84 children who have either failed foster care placement or that are so severely abused that they cannot thrive in a single family home. "We are breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect with programs that you are helping to fund," Edwards said.

With that said, auctioneer Jim Nye headed a brisk live auction, with guests generously bidding on such items as a fabulous Vail retreat package, which Tara and Mark Cavanaugh won for $10,000, a luxurious Mexican escape to Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, including American Airlines airfare, won by Michelle Lund for $11,000. The Meguiars won the Love LA/Lakers package for $10,000, and Anthony Minite paid $12,500 for dinner for 12 in The Ritz Restaurant's wine cellar and a limo to get there, an overnight at Pelican Hill Resort, a $1,000 St. John gift certificate, and a Black, Starr & Frost diamond pendant. Ginni and Kent Valley opted for the Barrett-Jackson VIP package for $4,500, while Debra and Jim Violette spent $6,000 for their 13-year-old daughter and a few friends to go to dinner at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles with Casey James and VIP tickets to James' appearance with the Sugarland Tour on July 25th at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. "Our daughter is going to be ecstatic," Debra said. "She loves Casey James!"

Among the guests were brother and sister Booboo and Fivel Stewart. Seventeen-year-old Booboo of Twilight series fame is a new Childhelp Ambassador. He and his sister Fivel are hosting a free concert to benefit Childhelp on August 12, 11:00 a.m. at The District at Tustin Legacy.

James gave an amazing performance, which drew people to the dance floor right down to the last chord played. An anonymous $25,000 bid in the "Dream Maker" auction helped boost net proceeds to an estimated $200,000 for Childhelp's programs, double last year's proceeds!

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