Both Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley crooned that “dreams come true…in Blue Hawaii” in their respective chart-topping covers of the iconic tune. On April 15, Child Crisis Arizona intended to do the same — make dreams come true — during its Blue Hawaiian-themed gala at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.
The event celebrated Child Crisis Arizona’s 45th anniversary and its island-inspired theme was by design in homage to several long-time partners’ and supporters’ most beloved galas of the past, according to a press release.
The evening, which raised nearly $900,000, featured a dinner and formal program, during which CEO Torrie Taj was joined on stage by clients to share their family’s story.
They also turned the concept of a traditional gala on its head with a series of special activations throughout the evening, the release stated. Among the activations was a “pool bar pull,” a twist on a blind wine pull and the chance for donors to win high-end bourbons, tequilas, island rums and specialty spirits to stock home bars in advance of pool party season this summer.
There was a smoothie and dessert bar, casino games for prizes, and a series of fundraising games, notably one where guests attempted to win a coconut that contained various gift cards from retailers and restaurateurs nationwide.
The evening featured a silent auction, dancing, a paddle raiser and live music from Notes from Neptune, an acoustic jam band best known for taking popular songs from the past 50 years and re-imagining or re-arranging them.
Helping make this evening special was a paddle raise focused on funding 4,000 nights of safe sleep for teens in the foster care system, the release added. Yvonne DeBeauville and Roger Hill kicked off the evening with a paddle raise gift of 400 nights. This was followed by David and Vala Lueth, Kathye Brown, Lisa VanBockern and Eugene Dean, each providing 200 nights. With the generosity of attendees, Child Crisis Arizona was able to raise funds to provide 3,500 nights of safe sleep.
Child Crisis Arizona presented its annual Legacy of Love Award to Janis Merrill during the event. Merrill has been a champion for Arizona’s most vulnerable children, youth and families for decades. Her commitment to human service agencies and focus on the importance of education is why she is so deserving of this award, the release stated.
The island-inspired gala was filled with blue pineapples, the symbol of strength.
“For 45 years, Child Crisis Arizona has been the ‘blue pineapple’ for children and teens who need a strong advocate. As the need continues to grow, with your support, we will continue to be the ‘blue pineapple’ for the 14,000 children and teens in Arizona’s foster system that need our help,” CEO Torrie Taj said in the release.
Among the most notable moments was an update shared with guests on the new 38,000-square-foot campus, which broke ground in March and is expected to be completed in 2024.
Spanning 2.4 acres, the two-story complex — complete with an urban garden, sensory and play therapy rooms, volunteer center, and medical screen space — will be among the first net-zero construction projects in Arizona, meaning it will generate as much energy as it consumes.
According to Taj, beyond its sustainable elements and bringing all of Child Crisis Arizona’s services, programs and team under one roof, the new campus will also bring several strategic collaborations with organizations such as Ballet Arizona, United Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona to help serve and inspire youth in the state for generations to come.