The Friends of Children's Hospital & Medical Center hosted the 65th annual Children's Gala on Nov. 9 at CenturyLink Center. Nearly 1,000 guests attended the event, which raised $550,000 to support the Carolyn Scott Rainbow House.
The Rainbow House provides lodging and support to families of children receiving care at the medical center who live at least 60 miles from Omaha. There is no charge to stay, and no one is turned away. In 2012, more than 2,000 families from 25 states stayed at the Rainbow House.
Silent and oral auctions, raffle prizes and dinner kept guests engaged throughout the evening. Entertainment was provided by Super Diamond, a nationally known Neil Diamond tribute band.
Guests were able to register their cellphones upon arrival and bid throughout the night via text message. Oral auction items that garnered considerable interest included 100 shares of baby Berkshire stock and a private dinner and tour of TD Ameritrade Park.
Children's employees assisted the Gala committee's efforts, donating 24 large gift baskets to the silent auction.
“We appreciate the Friends Board leaders, our hard-working Gala committee and all who contributed to the success of the 2013 Gala,” said Roger Lewis, executive director of Children's Hospital & Medical Center Foundation.
The Gala's theme, “Believe in Happy Endings,” was conveyed through plum, violet and silver linens, complemented by twinkling votive candles and elegant arrangements of purple and green spider mums, bells of Ireland, curly willow and greenery.
The gourmet dinner featured a parfait of smoky gazpacho with chili lime shrimp, beef medallions with blue cheese and mustard demi-glace, smashed potato cake and a fall vegetable bundle. Guests enjoyed chocolate cheesecake with basil whipped cream garnished with a deep fried basil leaf and berries to top off the meal.
Honorary chairmen were Mary and Rodrigo Lopez. Mary Lou Brasee and Judy Pritza served as event co-chairwomen. Jane Hirz is current Friend's board president.
“Children's Hospital specializes in happy endings. It is a place where more than 100,000 children receive hope and healing each year,” said Pritza.
John Knicely emceed the evening's program, which included special guests Avery Weisdorfer and her parents, Anne Dee and Eric Weisdorfer, from Shelton, Neb., who shared their experiences at the hospital and the Rainbow House.
Serving children since 1948, Children's Hospital & Medical Center is recognized as a 2013-14 Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report in cardiology and heart surgery, gastroenterology and GI surgery. For more information, visit www.ChildrensOmaha.org.
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Teacups and etiquette were the order of the day at the Roncalli Catholic High School 13th annual High Tea on Nov. 3. Over $20,000 was raised to support students by a record-breaking crowd of more than 400 guests.
“There is a great sense of optimism here at Roncalli as we prepare to celebrate our 50th year, which helped increase our attendance and the overall success of the event,” said Jeff Dempsey, Roncalli Catholic president.
A long-standing tradition, the High Tea raises funds while inspiring creativity for the participants. The Rummel gymnasium was transformed into a large tea room with guest tables inventively decorated. Each table had a different theme, chosen by the volunteers and hosts. This year's themes included a beach, campsite, board game, traditional elegance and “Secret Garden.”
Brother Armand Alcazar, a popular Roncalli teacher from 1971 to 1977, entertained guests with stories and sang songs from famous Broadway musicals, accompanied by Sylvia Black on the piano. Alcazar also served as a counselor for students. He directed the chorus and coached the boys and girls tennis teams during his time at the high school.
The High Tea luncheon featured cranberry garlic herb chicken salad, catered by Roncalli alumnus Ted Thomsen. Roncalli raspberry bars and luscious lemon bars were made by the foods and nutrition students. More than 70 students volunteered to set up, serve and clean for the event.
Roncalli offers a comprehensive college preparatory education as an Omaha Archdiocesan school. It offers a faith-centered environment with an educational opportunity financially accessible to all. For more information, visit www.roncallicatholic.org.
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Angels Among Us held its annual Fall Gala on Nov. 1 at the Embassy Suites Old Market. More than 300 guests joined honorary chairmen Renee and Jeremy Vokt. Event co-chairmen were Mark Burgers, Shari Holl, Ashley Homan, Kyle Johnson, Angie Kubicek, Amy Robbins and Steve Sorensen.
The organization serves families of children battling cancer in Nebraska hospitals by attempting to reduce the amount of outside stress in their lives. They do so primarily by providing financial assistance, a sense of community and essential resources and information. To date, more than $500,000 has been distributed to 100 families in need.
The evening included dinner, a silent and live auction and entertainment by Chris Saub. Malorie Maddox served as emcee. The program featured families who shared stories of the tremendous impact the program had on their lives.
“What Renee and I love about Angels Among Us is that it is a homegrown charity and that it supports families in our community,” said Vokt.
Added Kubicek, “The 2013 annual Gala was the most successful to date. We raised over $115,000 and we are so grateful to have the community supporting our families in need.”
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OneWorld Community Health Centers celebrated the many miracles, or milagros, that occurred over the past year at its 10th annual Milagro Dinner and Auction at the Historic Livestock Exchange Building Ballroom on Nov. 14.
More than 350 people attended and $111,000 was raised to support programs and services for the medically underserved. A silent auction during the social hour was sponsored by local businesses.
The theme was “A Day in the Life” and featured keynote speaker Richard Montañez, a Pepsi-Co senior executive who began as a janitor in 1976 and is now director of multicultural sales & community promotions. He is recognized as the creator of the “flamin hot” line of products, which led to other ethnic products and the first Frito-Lay hispanic marketing team.
Honored at the event for their medical service to the community were: Dr. Charles Filipi, whose mission work in the Dominican Republic led to an organization called Hernia Repair for the Underserved; Dr. Jonathan Fuller, who has been caring for patients at OneWorld since 2007; and the late Dr. Daniel Dietrich, the first volunteer medical director and the man responsible for developing OneWorld in what exists today. Methodist Hospital was honored for improving access to health care for everyone in the community.
Established in 1970, OneWorld Community Health Centers Inc., in partnership with the community, provides culturally respectful, quality health care with special attention to the underserved. It focuses on primary health care, maintaining an open-door policy, providing treatment according to an individual's income or insurance coverage. For more information, visit www.oneworldomaha.org.
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“We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson
ON THE CALENDAR
Holiday Under Glass concert series, Joslyn Art Museum, Wednesdays and Fridays, www.joslyn.org.
Grace University's Festival of Christmas Scholarship Concert and Dinner, Joslyn Art Museum, www.GraceU.edu/christmas.
Family holiday movie, “Elf,” Concord Mediation Center, Aksarben Cinema, firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-345-1131.
Reflection Ball presented by Midlands Community Foundation, Embassy Suites LaVista.
Rosie Rocks the Roaring 20s, Omaha Theater Company, Hilton Omaha, email@example.com, 402-354-4849.
Carnival of Love Gala, Heartland Family Service, Embassy Suites LaVista, firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-552-7424.
17th Annual Promise Gala-That's Amore!, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, email@example.com or 402-397-CURE.
Omaha Fashion Week, Omar Bakery Building, www.omahafashionweek.com.
Heroes in the Heartland, American Red Cross, Embassy Suites La Vista, www.redcross.org/ne/omaha.
Claussen-Leahy Run & Walk, UNO Athletics, Stinson Park, 402-554-3689.
Maureen Turner has been a volunteer for many Omaha community agencies and charities for nearly 30 years. Her service has included being the chairwoman of benefit events and membership on nonprofit boards. If you have news for Around and About, contact Maureen at firstname.lastname@example.org.