Well Over $1 Million Raised At Childhelp’s 11th Annual Drive the Dream Gala

PHOENIX, Jan. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Childhelp®, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children, held its 11th Annual Childhelp Drive the Dream Gala presented by The Foundation for Global Sports Development and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria at the Arizona Biltmore on Saturday, Jan. 10. Childhelp educates communities about the staggering child abuse statistics prevalent throughout the nation and provides solutions to help prevent child abuse and neglect.

Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150114/169042

  • Photo Gallery: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mi13s0lr3u7w3tm/AAD8KhzP9lpM5YMaCWunT2i6a?dl=0
  • More than $1 million was raised to support the organization’s Arizona-based programs and services including the downtown Phoenix Childhelp Children’s Advocacy Center of Arizona, Childhelp Mobile Advocacy Center of Northern Arizona, and the Childhelp Community Center.
  • Dignitaries, celebrity ambassadors, and Olympians attended the event including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Maks Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd of Dancing with the Stars, and Olympic Gold Medalist and event emcee, Scott Hamilton. Audra McDonald performed for the more than 550 guests in attendance.
  • “The Legends” live auction package including a portrait of Muhammad Ali and three gold records fromMichael Jackson, David Bowie and Pink Floyd sold for $57,000.

This year’s event was chaired by Pat and Bob Bondurant and Jim and Carol Hebets, with a focus on the Olympic theme of “Go for the Gold.” Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist, Emmy® Award nominee, best-selling author, and a cancer and brain tumor survivor, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the star-studded event. Audra McDonald, six-time Tony® Award and two-time Grammy® Award winner, was the evening’s entertainment, wowing the audience with a set of her well known Broadway performances.

“Even now in the U.S. child abuse is still being swept under the rug despite the fact that five children die every day from abuse and neglect. We believe that is five too many,” said Sara O’Meara, co-founder, CEO and chairman of Childhelp. “The theme for this year’s gala brings together supporters from the sports community to raise awareness on the issues of child abuse and neglect and the important role Childhelp plays in the lives of survivors as they find the gold within: self-esteem, trust, hope and love. Together we can help prevent and treat child abuse and neglect in communities across the country.”

The evening was kicked off by Olympian Scott Hamilton and a welcome from event chairs Pat and Bob Bondurant and co-chairs Jim and Carol Hebets. The Honorable Jan Brewer took the stage to reflect on her long relationship with Childhelp and pass the torch to newly elected Governor Doug Ducey. Gov. Ducey alongside his wife Angela, spoke about the importance of child abuse prevention education and his role on the Childhelp Arizona Advisory Board and the Childhelp Heal Committee.

During the event, Childhelp honored several people for charitable work including Melani Walton who won the prestigious Childhelp Woman of the World Award for her dedication to the betterment of children’s lives through her continued philanthropic work; Yank and Yvette Barry who won the Childhelp International Award for their continued fight against ISIS, religious persecution and world hunger and their dedication to saving the lives of children internationally; Dr. Steven Ungerleider and David Ulich for their continued support of the Childhelp Village ranch, recreation and sports therapy programs and the underwriting of Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe for Athletes; and Jinger Richardson and Missy Anderson who were presented with the Childhelp Nellie Jackson Award for their untold hours of time and tenacity to furthering the Childhelp mission. Bob Bondurant, the event’s co-chair, was also honored by Ford Motor Company for winning the 1965 Federation de International Automobile World Manufactures Championship on its 50th Anniversary.

Childhelp also recognized the success story of Childhelp’s very own Patricia Boone; A child abuse survivor who lived her early years at the Childhelp Village recovering from her abusive childhood. She is a graduate from University of California, Berkeley and is now attending Northwestern School of Law pursuing her dream of becoming a child advocate attorney. During a moving keynote address, Patricia credited the guidance, love and support she received from Childhelp for her ability to overcome her past.

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 Super Bowl XLIX package, and a Legends music package including a portrait of Muhammad Ali, and three gold records by Michael Jackson,David Bowie and Pink Floyd. The Legends collection was auctioned for $57,000 and was the highest package sold that evening.

“As the Chairs for the 11th annual gala, we traveled from L.A. to Washington to research the Childhelp Organization,” said Pat Bondurant, chair of the 2015 Childhelp Drive the Dream Gala. “Our hearts and minds are full and humbled with knowing exactly where the donated funds will be spent. At the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving we have a global message to our students and sponsors, we have added Childhelp into our circle when we say, ‘We are proud of the company we keep.'”

Following the auction, six-time Tony® Award and two-time Grammy® Award winner Audra McDonald took the stage, treating the audience to several songs.

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. Childhelp’s programs work to combat these issues daily. The Childhelp “Drive the Dream” gala is the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser and this year’s event raised more than $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 Community Center.

Additional notable guests included Olympians: Margaret Hoelzer, Misty Hyman, Ernie Young, Jane Swagerty-Hill, Mike Troy, Kellie Wells, Mike O’Brien, Kelly Mitchell, Kathy J. Clarke, Crissy Perham, Reynaldo Brown,Esther Lofgren, Giddeon Massie, Eric Schlopy; Government Officials: Senator Jon Kyl, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Acting Police Chief Mr. Joseph Yahner, Mayor Jim Lane, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Senator Steve Pierce, Senator Michele Reagan, Congressman Matt Salmon, City of Phoenix Manager Mr. Ed Zuercher, Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat, Senator Robert Meza, Councilman Sal DiCiccio; Childhelp Celebrity Ambassadors and other VIPs: Maks Chmerkovskiy, Peta Murgatroyd, Jen Lilley, Paulie Harraka, Rick Schroder, and more.

Along with presenting sponsors The Foundation for Global Sports Development, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing and Cox Communications, the gala’s other key supporting sponsors include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hebets & Walker, Barrett-Jackson and Services Group of America.