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An 'Evening Under the Stars'

Posted: September 13, 2008 9:43 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Co-founders of the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children's Cancer Sue and Chris Hoefflin.

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There were heroes to be found at the 15th annual Evening Under the Stars held Sept. 6 to benefit the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children's Cancer. Heroes bald from chemotherapy, heroes who needed help walking and heroes demonstrating quiet bravery came forward to accept their Hoefflin "Shining Star" trophies.

Co-founders of the Foundation, Chris and Sue Hoefflin, appeared on-stage at the event venue at Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia, in anticipation of the young heroes appearance.

"Sue and I would like to extend a warm welcome to each of you here tonight," Chris Hoefflin said. "We continue to be so impressed and so touched by the support we've had over the years. It is wonderful to have each of you here tonight, we hope the message of the Foundation inspires you and we hope you will be as touched as we are by the wonderful children you'll be able to meet in a few minutes."

Hoefflin then spoke about his son Michael, for whom the Foundation is named. Michael Hoefflin died at age 11, from brain cancer, but not before working to help other children with cancer.

"Our little boy Michael had a special spirit, a very giving and loving heart," said Chris Hoefflin. "That spirit continues to drive the Foundation to help these other families and it is with the help that we receive from wonderful people like you that we're able to reach out and embrace them and deliver services that are so important during their time of need and to help lift their spirits and put smiles on their faces. These children are very special to us and their entire families are very important to us."

Rick Garcia, sports anchor of the Fox 11 10 p.m. news, and Evening Under the Stars emcee, said he meets sports superstars and celebrities "day in and day out."

"But none of them hold a candle to the people we're getting ready to meet," he said.

Evan Gabor, 2; Robert Stepp, 4; Aisha Iyengar, 6; Precious Hanley, 7; Lucy Llewellyn, 8; Margel Xoy-Baten, 9; Jonathon Gibson 10; Kai Bey, 10 and Luis Contreras, 18, stepped on the stage to become the faces of children's cancer for the Foundation.

The crowd greeted each child warmly as each child clutched his or her award tightly. Contreras, escorted by Chris Hoefflin, kissed his statuette.

"These are the heroes," said Garcia.

Hoefflin Foundation spokesman Tony Potts, weekend co-anchor and correspondent for "Access Hollywood," urged the crowd to give the children a final round of applause.

"These are our young heroes," he said. "That is why we're here."

The event, which featured live and silent auctions raised more than $400,000 to fund support services and children's cancer research.

Among the items receiving the highest bid was an English bulldog puppy that fetched $4,000 from Potts and Shalini Vadhera. The puppy, donated by Michael and Gail Berke, ignited a furious bidding war.

"I fell in love with him and it's for a great cause," said Vadhera.

The head table for the 2009 "Evening Under the Stars" was the biggest live auction item of the evening. Glen Shepard and family paid $11,000 for the honor to repeat as holders of the head table.

Other big ticket items included $5,000 bid for Cabo San Lucas presidential suite donated by Kevin Malone and available for Christmas week; $4,250 paid for a luxury suite at a Lakers game, donated by Lexus of Valencia and Keyes Motors; $5,750 for a vacation The Sanctuary Resort in Costa Rica donated by Doug Gould and The Sanctuary; $4,750 for a World Series MVP bat signed by 35 World Series MVPs donated by Reid Products International; $4,500 paid for a Joe DiMaggio autographed home plate donated by Superior Thread Rolling Co. and $3,250 bid for four tickets to the Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers Concert of Hope, donated by Alisa Celaya.

The live auction, with auctioneer Mark Drilling and the wonderfully exuberant "Jacob" brought the Hoefflin Foundation more than $100,000.

A reverse drawing earned the Foundation $10,000, (100 tickets sold at $100 each) with the winner of the last ticket drawn the recipient of a week in Maui. In an odds-defying moment James Peifer, the winner of the 2007 Hoefflin reverse drawing, scored a repeat win in 2008.

Additional money was raised from balloon sales where guests earned gift certificates and other prizes by paying $20 to $50 for a balloon, then popping the balloon to find the prize inside.

Event sponsorships were up this year, said Scott Schauer, executive director of the Hoefflin Foundation.

"This is the most we've ever had," he said.

This was the second year the Michael Hoefflin Foundation Endowed Scholarship Fund asked for donations during the live auction and more than $40,000 was earned for the fund in a few short minutes.

The first scholarship recipients were also named: Alyssa Gomez, Ashley Porter, Tiffany Espino and Kirsten Trimble.
Jill Mellady, on the Hoefflin Foundation board of directors, said "Evening Under the Stars" is an important fundraiser for the Foundation.

"We're raising money for children and families in the SCV who have been diagnosed with cancer and we're helping their families with outreach and support," she said. "This is so important for them so they can heal. The money raised goes research - without the research we can't find a cure for cancer.

The importance of Mellady's words were underscored by the last page of the Evening Under the Stars program which had a page of Hoefflin clients who had lost their battle with cancer in the past year. Under the heading "Remembering Our Little Heroes" were 18 names of children ages 2 to 22 - with the majority dying of brain tumors, brain cancer or leukemia.

After the serious business of fundraising was over for the evening, guests crowded the dance floor in front of the stage to "let loose" to the sounds of Al McKay, an original member of the band Earth, Wind and Fire (1973-1981). The group played the music of Earth, Wind and Fire as appreciative guests jostled for space on the limited dance floor.

Schauer praised the efforts of the hundreds of volunteers who worked to stage the event.

Among the volunteers was Tammy David, of Canyon Country, who worked the live auction tent with her daughter Mandy.

"This is a great organization and it does so much for the children and the community," David said.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, services provided or donations to the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children's Cancer visit www.mhf.org or call (661)250-4100.

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