Chris Hoefflin shares the dance floor with a “tiny dancer.” Photos: Michele E. Buttelman.
The 23rd Annual Evening Under the Stars raised more than $100,000 in a live auction to benefit the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer.
Proceeds from the event, held Saturday at the Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia, will also include ticket sales, a silent auction, reverse raffle and sponsorships, once all of the dollars are tallied.
The silent auction offered more than 300 gift baskets, bottles of wine, gift certificates and other items. The live auction total featured 34 items and raised nearly $35,000 in a Fund-A-Need request.
“This is always one of my favorite events,” said auctioneer Mark Drilling of Stokes Auction Group. “It is always an emotional evening.”
Founders Chris and Sue Hoefflin welcomed guests.
“Sue and I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone here tonight,” said Chris Hoefflin. “It is wonderful to see so many friendly and caring faces in the crowd. Tonight we honor our children and our families that are with us. Tonight you’ve heard some heart-wrenching stories, it is a difficult battle that we face, but with your help we are able to conquer.”
Chris and Sue Hoefflin
Chris Hoefflin also asked attendees to help celebrate the accomplishments of a special group of cancer survivors – now young-adult Hoefflin Foundation scholarship recipients.
The evening also included a memorial slideshow of young cancer patients who lost their battle with cancer during the past year.
Kymmer Crookston spoke about her son’s battle with cancer and how the Hoefflin Foundation helped her son and her family in ways she never expected.
Prior to the live auction, Hoefflin Foundation board co-chairs Holly Cordova and Frank Oviedo asked the audience to open up their “hearts and wallets” to assist the foundation.
“Without these funds, we can’t do the great work we do helping families in need,” Oviedo said.
Kymmer Crookston shares the story of her son’s battle with pediatric cancer and how the Hoefflin Foundation assisted the family.
He also spoke about the origins of the nonprofit, founded in 1995 by the late 9-year-old Michael Hoefflin and his parents, Chris and Sue Hoefflin. Michael was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 6. After years of remission and reoccurrence, he died at age 10 on May 15, 1996.
Cordova said the foundation has served more than 500 families since it began.
“And I was one of those families,” she said. “My son is a survivor. I love this organization.”
She described the overwhelming emotions of learning one’s child has cancer, as well as the financial burdens involved.
“Cancer affects the whole family,” she said. “Kids sometimes need to be kids, which is why one of my favorite activities of the Hoefflin Foundation are the parties for the children.”
Dawnel DeRubeis, Mrs. California Universal, introduced many of the clients of the Hoefflin Foundation as they joined her on stage.
Dawnel DeRubeis, Mrs. California Universal with clients of the Hoefflin Foundation.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to have them here with us tonight,” DeRubeis said. “They are reminder of why we are here to night and why we won’t stop fighting for a cure.”
After the emotional program, the live auction began which vacations, jewelry, art and more. Among the most fought-over items was the head table to the 2017 event, which went to Glen Sherman for $10,000. He has held the “rights” to the head table for the past several years and engaged in a spirited bidding war to keep the table for next year’s event.
Other items garnering large bids were a seven-day trip to Mammoth with use of a condo that sleeps 11 ($4,300); a Kobe Bryant autographed warm-up jersey ($2,600); use of a 3,800-square-foot vacation home in Kahana, Maui, for seven days ($6,250); Staples Center Kings Suite ($5,000) and a framed Pablo Picasso print ($2,400).
Rick Garcia, news anchor for KCBS Channel 2 News at 4:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., served as emcee of the event.
Guests raise their bid numbers to make pledge donations during the Fund-a-Need appeal.
The reverse raffle for a Princess Cruises premium vacation package valued at $5,000, donated by the Princess Cruises Community Foundation, was won by Laurie and Rick Garcia. Tickets cost $100 each with only 200 tickets available.
Garcia was nearly speechless when his name was on the last ticket drawn, to win the raffle.
“Really?” Garcia said, as he announced his own name. “Well, OK.”
The evening included many emotional moments when cancer survivors and parents of children who had lost, and who had won, their cancer battles told their moving stories to the crowd of more than 500 attending the event.
Photos of children who have died in the past year from cancer were displayed on large screens during the event, a reminder of the Hoefflin Foundation’s mission.
Guests at the Hoefflin Foundation Evening Under the Stars fundraiser view silent auction items.
After the dinner and auction, the crowd was entertained by the Kelly Rae Band, and many guests took advantage of the dance floor set up in front of the stage.
Co-chairs of the event were Brenda Neilson and Tim and Jenny Ketchepaw. Gala vice-chairs included Gail Berke, Bob Jenner, Rob Comeau, Shannon King, Frank Hoffman, Vanessa Rutherford, Bill Morton, Andrea Morton, Dawn Hovhannisyan and Chris and Caren Kahan.
The goals of the Hoefflin Foundation include: Finding better treatments and cures through medical research, promoting awareness of childhood cancer, and assisting local children and their families through outreach programs and emotional and financial support.
Families receive grocery and gasoline assistance, information and referrals, entertainment activities, monthly support groups, counseling and tutoring, educational resources and financial assistance.
In addition, the Hoefflin Foundation presents families with a “Kare Kit” with practical items needed for a hospital stay; college scholarships for survivors; family and grief counseling; memorial gifts to offset end-of-life expenses; and support for research and clinical trials seeking a cure.
For more information about the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer, visit www.mhf.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 661-250-4100.
Auctioneer Mark Drilling, left, works the crowd as emcee Rick Garcia, right, describes the framed autographed Kobe Bryant warm-up jersey.
Evening Under the Stars Gala co-chairs Brenda Neilson and Tim and Jenny Ketchepaw.
The Kelly Rae Band