Imagine a place where wandering musicians play for guests strolling through an Arabian marketplace filled with unique gifts, or guests line up to have their photos taken with a snake charmer charming a boa constrictor, or fortune tellers telling of wondrous things to come.
For 850 guests, the wondrous event was already at hand: The 2017 Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Gala, held Saturday, Nov. 11, was a night to remember as the black-tie optional event raised more than $1 million to benefit patient care.
That evening, the Connecticut Convention Center was transformed into a “Wondrous Place for You and Me,” based on the Disney movie, “Aladdin,” which was reflected in every aspect of the evening.
The ballroom was transformed into the forecourt of a sultan’s palace: guests entered through billowing drapes and were cooled by costumed performers with huge feathered fans. The entertainment began with dancers wearing flaming headdresses, waving torches, and gracefully interweaving to create a mesmerizing effect. There were also belly dancers performing an intricately choreographed routine with large fabric wings. They were followed by the world-renowned mentalist Craig Karges, who, among other things, levitated a wooden table and invited several audience members onto the stage to each imagine a different aspect of a car they chose at random. He then retrieved a piece of paper from a wallet where he had earlier written down everything they imagined, include a price tag right down to the penny. And the evening finished with everyone dancing to a nine-piece band presenting a soul music revue.
An Astounding Success
This year’s Gala broke many existing records, raising more than $1,071,595 to support the care of our young patients. That total included record breaking subtotals: The silent auction, with items ranging from an oriental rug to a vacation in Panama, generated $54,145, a $12,696 increase over 2016, itself a record year. And the live auction, featuring such items as a week at a beach resort, a day trip on a yacht, and rare wine, brought in $31,375.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and his wife, Sara; West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor and her husband Michael; Suffield First Selectman Melissa Mack and Matt Hoey, First Selectman of Guilford.
Speakers included Connecticut Children’s CEO Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE; President and Chief Operating Officer Gil Peri, MBA, MPH; Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and 15-year-old patient Erin Edgar, who poignantly explained why a new Infusion & Dialysis Center is so important during the Bid4Kidz portion of the evening.
The extraordinary generosity of the guests could be seen dramatically during that Bid4Kidz event, where people made donations on their phones while a large projected display showed donations increasing in real time topping $150,000 in the space of 10 minutes, all to support Connecticut Children’s new Infusion & Dialysis Center and kids just like Erin.