CASAblanca was an excellent gala and a fantastic spectacle. The night was filled with the buzz of excited guests ready to gamble and bid all in support of this amazing charity.
CASA of Travis County (Court Appointed Special Advocates) fights on behalf of abused and neglected children. The staff and volunteers work tirelessly to get children out of unsafe homes, or change the home environment to make it safe. Over 450 people came out to support this cause for this year’s CASA Gala event.
Cocktail hour was a chance to mingle and meet with everyone united by a common cause. The casino tables were a highlight for everyone. At 7:30, we all convened in the Hyatt Regency ballroom for a delicious meal provided by Chef Javier Ortiz. It began with a delightful Caesar Salad, followed by a steak and fish dinner or vegetable lasagna for us vegetarians.
At 8:30, the program began with this year’s honoree Gigi Edwards Bryant. She told her heart breaking yet inspiring story through a video and then came up to accept the award in person. By the end of her speech, a good portion of the audience was in tears.
Far and above the most fun part of the evening was the live auction. CASA does nothing halfway, and the same applied to the spectacle of the auction, which was more entertainment than fundraiser. A team of CASA volunteers lent a helping hand enthusiastically. The bidding would always start lower and climb higher and higher sometimes inciting a bidding war. Never a dull moment, whenever there was a lull, the auctioneer encouraged paddles to raise with facts about how much CASA does for the community and hilarious jabs at whoever the winning bidder happened to be.
Two of the most fun items to sell were a guitar signed by Bruce Springsteen and one by Justin Bieber. Halfway through the lively auction, team CASA did something I had never seen before but turned out to be my favorite part of the night: The Fund-a-Need. Starting at 5,000 dollars, they asked attendees to raise their paddle at the amount where they felt comfortable as a charitable donation to CASA. At the largest amounts, 5-10 numbers went up, but by the time the hosts were at $500, it seemed like nearly everyone in the crowd was pledging to help CASA on their mission. Over the course of night, $350,000 was raised including $95,000 from the Fund-a-Need.
I only hope CASAblanca will return next year as I will certainly be in attendance.