Drive the Dream: Childhelp annual gala honors big names, looks to raise big funds

Drive the Dream: Childhelp annual gala honors big names, looks to raise big funds

By Alex Gallagher

For the past 19 years, benefactors and beneficiaries of the Scottsdale-based nonprofit Childhelp have assembled under one roof to applaud the efforts of philanthropic celebrities, raise millions of dollars, and celebrate all the good work they have accomplished in the past year.

Although this year will have the same fanfare, it will be held under a slightly different guise.

This year, Drive the Dream Gala, which is hosted on Saturday, February 18, at The Phoenician Hotel, will deviate from the traditional black-tie gala with “Boots and Bling,” encouraging attendees to don their best boots, jeans and 10-gallon hats.

Clint Black will headline the event with openers Red Steagall, Nate Nathan & the Mac Daddy-O’s, Roosevelt Rawls and Steve Amerson.

Reba McEntire will receive the Childhelp Woman of the World Award.

“With Reba coming, it’s the perfect theme, as she’s the queen of country,” says Childhelp spokesperson Daphne Young.

Although McEntire has been a friend of Childhelp for well over a decade, Young says he award celebrates her commitment to philanthropy.

“We were amazed to discover all the great stuff she’s done,” Young says. “(McEntire has) worked with Special Olympics, Children’s Villages, project, smile and all these kinds of cool charities for kids.

The Childhelp Woman of the World Award is designed to celebrate people who are not just Childhelp supporters, but people who support kids throughout their careers and throughout communities globally. So we just felt that she was a great person to celebrate that way.”

Pastor Tommy Barnett will be honored as Childhelp Man of the World award.

“I think it’s good for the community to see that there are heroes who we need to strive to be like,” Young says. “There are people that do so much in so many ways for these little guys, so let’s be more like Reba and let’s be more like Pastor Tommy and create things that are sustainable for kids.”

The event is also a fundraiser, encouraging folks to donate to Childhelp. The organization has collected up to $6 million at its galas, and it hopes to surpass that this year. That covers funding for the Children’s Center of Arizona in Downtown Phoenix, which reaches tens of thousands of Arizona children and families each year dealing with domestic violence, Young says.

During the event, there will be a major auction as well as a paddle raise where benefactors can sponsor a child in need.

Young is conscious of the value of a dollar, so she appreciates any donation.

“There are so many families struggling and there are so many people going through tough times,” Young says. “If you do have any extra resources, we so appreciate it on behalf of the brave survivors that we serve and for those who are in a position to give and to give greatly, now is the time to open those wallets like you’ve never done before and make sure that you know that there’s not just a recovery for these children, but a brighter path forward.” 

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