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Stars shine at Hoefflin gala

Posted: September 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Lead singer Juan del Castillo and the DSB tribute band performed Journey's biggest hits at the annual "Evening Under the Stars" gala for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation at the Mann Biomedical Park on Sept. 15.

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The night skies sparkled as the Michael Hoefflin Foundation presented its 19th annual “Evening Under the Stars” gala dinner and charity auction featuring a headline performance by DSB, America’s favorite tribute to the iconic rock band Journey.

The gala, which for almost two decades has been one of the most anticipated charity fundraisers in the Santa Clarita Valley, returned to the gorgeous outdoor setting of Mann Biomedical Park on Sept. 15, attracting more than 500 guests to the elegant black-tie event that included a dinner catered by Salt Creek Grille Catering.  

The event is the year’s major fundraiser for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, whose mission is to provide support to children and their families facing the emotional and financial difficulties of pediatric cancer. The title sponsor was the Princess Cruises Community Foundation.

“Evening Under the Stars is a signature event in our valley, one that the community looks forward to all year,” said Gillian Stone, the foundation’s executive director. “We raised more than $160,000 between the silent and live auctions and the ‘Fund a Need.’ We have wonderful people who have been with us from the beginning and wonderful new people who have learned our story, dig deep and give generously.”

To begin the evening’s activities, event co-chairs Julie Benson of Princess Cruises and Tim and Jenny Ketchepaw introduced 10 young people in the Hoefflin program who exemplify the Foundation’s goal to “keep believing” that children’s cancer can be defeated.

The trio then introduced the Master of Ceremonies, Rick Garcia of CBS2/KCAL9 News.

“I am truly honored to be here,” Garcia said. “This is such a special foundation, where people come to find friends and support after they are faced with the tragic news.”

Live and silent auction

As people arrived at the gala, they were encouraged to bid on hundreds of silent auction items, from overseas trips to wine and baskets of everything in between.

Then, as the live auction got under way, the guests bid with open arms as they eagerly competed for items including luxury trips, diamond jewelry, sports memorabilia and a three-month-old Maltese puppy won for $3,000 by a teary-eyed Carolyn Grijalva.

Bidding was brisk, but with a final bid of $11,000, Sam and Lucy Gramercy of Sand Canyon won the spectacular Gatsby Cabriolet, created and designed by Master Coachman Sky Clausen of Gatsby Coachworks in San Jose.

“We have been coming to the gala ever since it started,” Sam Gramercy said. “And it seems we buy everything every year.”

Yet it also seemed as if generosity knew no bounds when pediatrician Dr. Thomas J. and Eileen Connolly of Saugus placed a winning bid of $14,500 for the head table at the 2013 Gala.

“We come every year,” Eileen Connolly said. “It’s just this is a donation in a much larger amount; I have five healthy children and a healthy three-week-old grandchild and it’s just heartbreaking for the kids with cancer.”

The auctioneer for the event, Mark Drilling of Stokes Auction Group Inc., said this continues to be one of the most impressive charity auctions of the approximately 600 they do every year.

In fact, because so many people got involved, it took a full 10 minutes — a lifetime in auction terms — just to add up all of the donations for “Fund a Need.”

‘Don’t Stop Believing’

After the auction, the DSB band hit the stage for a full set with all their best songs from the past three decades. It was a great show and the audience rushed the stage as they ended the evening dancing to their hits including “Faithfully,” “Open Arms,” and of course, “Don’t Stop Believing.’”

Chris Hoefflin, co-founder of the Hoefflin Foundation, was overwhelmed by the evening’s success as they presented scholarships to five former clients who were essay contest winners.

He and his wife, Sue, began the foundation in 1995 after their young son, Michael, lost his fight with brain cancer.

“I can’t believe it has already been 19 years, he said.  “We really appreciate the continued support and generosity of the community.”

Through the foundation, Stone said more than 300 families receive financial assistance for pressing bills, gas and groceries.

Funds are also directed toward research grants aimed at finding a cure for childhood cancer and to create “Kare Kits” which are distributed at hospitals throughout the Los Angeles area for children who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Stone said they also provide counseling, support and Family Fun Days at Mountasia, bowling at Valencia Lanes, outings to Lombardi Ranch, a Christmas party and a summer swim event.

The foundation

The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization that provides practical, emotional and direct financial support to children and their families in the Santa Clarita Valley and neighboring communities.

The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer, 26470 Ruether Ave., Unit 101, Santa Clarita, CA 91350 Federal Tax ID: 95-4565741. Contributions are deductible to the full extent allowed by law. For additional information, call 661-250-4100 or visit mhf.org


The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization that provides practical, emotional and direct financial support to children and their families in the Santa Clarita Valley and neighboring communities.

The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer, 26470 Ruether Ave., Unit 101, Santa Clarita, CA 91350 Federal Tax ID: 95-4565741. Contributions are deductible to the full extent allowed by law. For additional information, call 661-250-4100 or visit mhf.org

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