Childhood cancer in the Santa Clarita Valley is a difficult reality for some families. However, the 20th annual Evening Under the Stars fundraiser for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer, found a wave of support Saturday at the Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia.
The event, which featured more than 300 live and silent auction items, dinner and music from the Surf Tunes, attracted nearly 525 attendees.
A somber reminder of lives lost to childhood cancer was shown on two large screens adjacent to the stage as the Fund-a-Need program found guests donating generously.
The live auction and Fund-a-Need earned the organization more than $140,000, said Gillian Stone, executive director of the Michael Hoefflin Foundation.
A final tally of the evening’s proceeds will include silent auction, reverse raffle, other donations and sponsorships.
“We did better than last year and we are on an upward curve,” said Stone.
“We have very loyal and wonderful people who support us.”
A spirited bidding war erupted for rights to the 2014 Evening Under the Stars head table between previous gala head table winner Glen Sherman and the current occupants, Dr. Tom and Ilene Connolly.
Sherman had held rights to the head table for several years and said early in the evening he had plans to recapture the prize. After the intense back-and-forth bidding ended Sherman won the table with a high bid of $19,000.
Another sought after prize was the 9-week-old female Yorkie puppy which was won by Mimi Falkenborg of Santa Clarita, with a high bid of $2,500.
“I am so excited,” said Falkenborg, as she cradled the trembling puppy in her arms.
Falkenborg had yet to decide on a name for the puppy.
“I’ll get my son to help me decided on a name,” she said.
The live auction featured a host of unique items including a Ronald Reagan signed letter to Red Skelton, a Kobe Bryant autographed basketball and a rare autographed “NCIS” director’s chair.
Rick Garcia, news anchor of CBS2 news and KCAL news co-anchor, served as emcee of the event with auctioneer Mark Drilling of Stokes Auction Group making short work of the more than 30 live auction items.
“This is always one of my favorite events,” said Drilling.
The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer was founded in 1994 in honor of Michael Hoefflin, the young son of Sand Canyon residents Chris and Sue Hoefflin. Michael Hoefflin died of recurrent brain cancer in 1996.
Chris Hoefflin thanked guests for attending the 20th annual Evening Under the Stars.
“Sue and I would like to welcome all of you tonight,” he said. “It is very special to us to have you here to celebrate the 20th anniversary with us tonight.”
Hoefflin paid tribute to Carl and Jeri Goldman of KHTS-AM for their help in founding Evening Under the Stars.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for (the Goldmans). The first gala was held in their backyard,” he said.
Hoefflin said “Santa Clarita is a wonderful place to live.”
“We are fortunate to live in a community like Santa Clarita that embraces the charities like you all do,” he said.
Among the evening’s most inspirational moments was the awarding of scholarships to young cancer survivors: Justine Caranto, Giovanni de la Rosa, Marysia Kozlowski, Brittany Magno and Michael Wong.
After the program and auction guests were entertained by the Surf Tunes. Members of the band had toured with the iconic surf band The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean.
The Hoefflin Foundation provides “kare kits” to families when children are first diagnosed with cancer, emergency and ongoing financial support for expenses, social activities and support, family and grief counseling, college scholarships for survivors, burial expenses and support of pediatric cancer research.
Title sponsors of the event were Boston Scientific and Princess Cruises.
Tim and Jenny Ketchepaw served as Evening Under the Stars chairs. Event vice chairs were Gail Berke, Rob Comeau, Frank Hoffman, Debbie Holbrook, Jon Hutson, Shannon King, Brenda Neilson and Danielle Whitener.
“We are so appreciative of our volunteers,” said Stone. “You can’t do an event like this without dedicated volunteers.”
Rob Comeau of Rob Comeau Photography was named the Hoefflin Foundation Volunteer of the Year.
For more information about the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer visit mhf.org.
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Source: Santa Clarita News