Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s annual gala, Cause 4 Hope, did just what the name implies — it inspired hope.
The elegant evening March 9 at Michael’s On East began with a cocktail hour in the atrium. Shortly after the start, a bus pulled up with 24 people from Manatee County. The group took up three tables in the ballroom in support of Manatee County residents Charles and Jeannie Slater. The cause is close to their heart, for Charles has Parkinson’s.
The salad course was served as guests took their seats for the evening. Chairman of the Board Ronald Beck first welcomed guests and gave thanks to sponsors.
Then, Co-Chairs Stan and Jo Rutstein graced the stage to tell the story of how the late Gerri Aaron asked them to be this year’s co-chairs. In their words, “You didn’t say no when Gerri asked you to do something.” Aaron was a longtime supporter of NCF after her husband died of Parkinson’s.
As guests finished their salad course, the live auction kicked off the giving portion of the gala. The first item, a strand of pearls, was modeled by last year’s co-chairwoman, Emily Walsh, for the second year in a row.
After the live auction, dinner was served. CEO Robyn Faucy Washington was next to the stage. She gave a heartfelt story about Aaron before educating attendees on Parkinson’s disease and the work NCF does for both those with the disease and their caregivers. NCF’s services are free of charge, and the organization served 2,700 people last year.
The video shown next left little to no viewers without a tear or two in their eyes.
Local community members with Parkinson’s and their caregivers and family members were interviewed for the video, many of whom were in attendance at the gala. The video shed light on the way of life for everyone affected by the disease.
A successful paddle raise followed, pushing the total funds raised during the night to more than $300,000.
Jonathan Cortez ended the night as couples crowded the dance floor to groove along to his songs.