You know how some fundraisers feel obligatory and heart wrenching? Well, this is NOT one of those kind of fundraisers! 🙂 For the third year, I’ve had the honor of shooting Children’s Action Alliance’s annual luncheon fundraiser, “Through the Eyes of a Child,” at the Phoenix Hyatt Regency Hotel. TEOC is such a fun and uplifting event, and the room is always filled with old friends; it’s the kind of gathering where everyone is just…smiling.
There’s no other fundraiser quite like TEOC; everything about it is a celebration of the joys and talents of children. The theme this year was “The World…Through the Eyes of a Child,” which I just LOVED. The coolest part was that the centerpieces, which were provided by Lakeshore Learning, were donated to local schools after the event.
Before the plated meal is served in the ballroom, guests mingle in the lobby to bid on auction items, all of which are hand made by Arizona children and teens. Check out this sampling of this year’s dazzling pieces:
During the program over lunch, guests were treated to a couple of Broadway numbers by a Greasepaint Youth Theatre…they were amazing! I had to restrain myself from singing along at one point. That would’ve been a little awkward.
There were even teen volunteers helping at TEOC!. Don’t worry, they are on fall break – no school was skipped in the making of this fundraiser. 🙂 The teen volunteers helped sell raffle tickets, and later, draw the winners and hand out the prizes. How cool are these guys to spend their free time helping an organization like CAA?
CAA has amazing Arizona leaders at it’s helm, both on staff, and on the board of directors. Currently, Christine Nowaczyk of Bank of Arizona serves as Board Chair (below left), and Dana Wolfe Naimark is President and CEO (below right). Each year at TEOC, Dana and the Board Chair make their own remarks, and then present awards to Arizona leaders that champion children’s causes. Dana always gives the most amazing, creative, inspiring speeches. If you look up “brilliant advocate” in the Dictionary, I promise you, she will be there. Seriously, go do it. (PS: Guess who took that headshot photo of her on the screen in the background?) 😉
Catherine Anaya, local CBS news evening anchor (above middle), served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the second year. My camera just loves her. Taking pictures of people while they are speaking a a podium is reallllyyyy hard. You usually have to take like 3 dozen images to get even one where the mouth isn’t gaping open in mid-sentence, eyes blinking, faced turned the other direction…you get the idea. Somehow, though, just like last year, almost every shot of Catherine was…gorgeous. Guess that’s why they put her on TV! 🙂
For 2010, the TEOC honorees include former state legislator, the Honorable Diane McCarthy, and Avondale Mayor, the Honorable Marie Lopez Rogers. The Mayor was so moved by the honor she got a little teary while making her acceptance remarks, which made me a little teary…and, it’s hard to take photos while you are crying into the eyepiece. Just sayin.’
These women are just incredible. Diane gave a very direct, bold speech, reminding everyone that children need to be able to trust adults, an that trust means “keeping your word.” Diane wasn’t afraid to say so to this crowd of 500+ (which included legislators), that the legislature hasn’t kept their word on certain issues pertaining to children. (Specifically, she was expressing her opposition to Prop 302, which is on the Nov. 2 ballot in Arizona. Read the Prop 302 Pros and Cons here.) Here are some additional shots of Dana, Christine, Catherine, and the honorees. Pictured with Mayor Rogers is State Representative Ana Tovar.
The program also included remarks made by Krista Long. I’ve known Krista for a while, but never knew the details of her journey. Krista’s a parent that’s been down some tough roads and has emerged as a strong advocate for others. Her amazing story inspired everyone in the room, and served as a reminder of how families can emerge from hard times if the right supports are available. Here’s a shot of Krista speaking bravely to the crowd, and the shining (but exhausted) faces of the CAA staff that worked so hard behind the scenes.