The Art of Giving Gala evening began with cocktails while guests mingled and viewed the wide variety of silent auction items. Many generous businesses donated to the auction including Lake Travis Zip Line Adventures, the Law Offices of Kelley J. Dwyer PLLC, Zach Theatre and Guero’s Taco Bar.
I met Jenna Dixon, one of the event planning interns for The American Diabetes Association, and she helped me to understand all the hard work that goes into organizing an event like this. Jenna explained that she has been dealing with diabetes since she was 3 years old, and that she felt alone at times with the disease. Jenna now has a passion to help and support others with this disease. Jenna works closely with The American Diabetes Association Manager Mercedes Feris, who was the leader in organizing this incredible event to help spread the word about diabetes and help stop this growing disease.
Guests enjoyed a three course meal prepared by Hilton chefs with rose petals for the tables and presentation bouquets for the VIPs created by Ben White Florist. Michael Martinez, owner of Ben White Florist, says that although his shop is a small family business, he is always eager to contribute to local non-profits any way he can.
The emcee of the evening, Paul Brown, YNN News anchor, introduced the evening’s guest speakers. One of the night’s most memorable speakers was a young, yet brave, 11-year-old girl named Julia Schoeneberg. Julia’s involvement with The American Diabetes Association began with a school project she created in fourth grade. Julia chose to research the ADA because her grandfather has been dealing with diabetes for over 45 years and she has seen the disease’s effects on him and her family. Julia was asked to be the 2011 Youth Advocate for Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes and her team’s name is “Abo’s Army,” (named after her grandfather). I was so impressed with Julia’s informative speech as well as her confidence and passion. Julia’s mom Patricia says, “Julia is the type of person I want to grow up to be some day.”
A live auction came next while the talented auctioneer George L. Vaught of United Country-Jones Swenson Auction Marketing, Inc facilitated the bidding to raise more money for the organization.
I spoke with two more guests at the gala, Michael Bettersworth and Niles Patel, who were there to support Mercedes Feris as all of her hard work came to fruition. Michael said, “most of us tend to take being healthy for granted until we are sick or face a serious medical issue. This is especially true for less visible diseases like diabetes–particularly childhood diabetes. The personal stories we heard at tonight’s event were a poignant reminder that each day is a gift and that we can make a difference by giving back.”
When I asked Mercedes how she felt the event fared, she told me she was very excited about the turnout. Although the amount of attendees at the gala was not a huge number, the gala raised over $20,000 for The American Diabetes Association which speaks volumes that the guests who did attend the event are really passionate and dedicated to the cause.
I went away from the event with a better understanding of how the disease can effect people and their families and an entire packet put together by Mercedes and her staff including a Diabetes magazine (with healthy recipes and other informative information) and several other bits of information on how to eat healthier, live a better life and how to help fight this disease.
Please refer to my previous article covering this event for even more information about diabetes and the impact The American Diabetes Association has had on helping to fight this disease.