PHOENIX (January 14, 2014) – Childhelp®, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children, held its 10th annual “Drive the Dream” gala presented by Grimaldi’s Pizzeria at the Arizona Biltmore Saturday Jan. 11.
The evening was kicked off with host Tara Hitchcock and a welcome from event co-chairs Jim and Carol Hebets and event chairs Pat and Bob Bondurant. Governor Brewer took the stage to acknowledge the tireless work of the C.A.R.E team in its investigation and was surprised by the presentation of the Childhelp Founders Award from founders Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson. Next was an overview of the Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe prevention education curriculum by key supporter Origami Owl.
During the event, Childhelp bestowed two awards for charitable work including the Spirit of the Children Award presented by Carol Hebets to Bob and the late Carole Machiz for their tireless efforts to help children with their work in Childhelp and other charities. The inaugural, Nellie Jackson Award, in memory of Craig Jackson’s mother who was a staunch supporter of Childhelp, was presented by Craig Jackson to Linda Pope for her philanthropic work over the course of her life.
Childhelp also recognized local Childhelp success story Zachary and his adoptive family. Zachary’s story was an inspiration to the audience with the news of his recent victory against his abuser when his former adoptive mother was sentenced to 32 years in prison. Also recognized was the Maricopa chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse, who has been very active with Zachary’s entire adoptive family and during the case attended court to form a human shield between Zachary and his abusers.
The evening’s live auction included a variety of prize packages that were bid on, including driving lessons with Bob Bondurant at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, a trip to the Indy 500, a California trip featuring lunch with Betty White, a trip to Italy complete with tickets to a performance with Andre Bocelli, dinner at his home and tickets to Celebrity Fight Night in Florence. The big item of the night was a custom made white 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray that sold for $104,000.
Following the auction, Emmy® and Tony Award® winner Kristin Chenoweth took the stage, treating the audience to several songs including “Maybe This Time,” “Popular,” “Bring Him Home,” “Taylor the Latte Boy,” “The Girl in 14-G,” and “Fathers and Daughters.” In an impromptu donation, Chenoweth auctioned off her dress from the event for $1,000 to an event guest.
In our nation, five children die each day as a result of abuse or neglect, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds and nearly 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made annually and Childhelp’s programs work to combat these issues daily. The “Drive the Dream” gala is the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser and this year’s event raised over $1 million. Proceeds will support the organization’s Arizona-based programs and services, such as the downtown Phoenix Childhelp Children’s Advocacy Center of Arizona, Childhelp Mobile Advocacy Center of Northern Arizona, and the Childhelp H.K. Cummings Community Center.
Additional notable guests included Ian Buchanan (General Hospital), Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Mayor Greg Stanton, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Bob Varsha, Jimmy Walker, and more.
Along with presenting sponsor, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, the gala’s other key supporting sponsors include Barrett-Jackson, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Linda and Bill Pope, Services Group of America, Firetrace International and NFP/The Hebets Company.
For additional information on this event or photos, please contact Jennifer Spangler at (480) 751-1007.