Casino Night 2023
A GREAT BEGINNING
If you weren’t there with us on September 30th, you were deeply missed. For those who were, we loved seeing you and sharing ourselves with you in such a fun environment. From start to finish, it was a whole lot of fun. There were games to be played, food to eaten, drinks to be had, and friends to be seen and made – however, more importantly, we re-casted our vision and shared with so many of you the important work that we do.
As people began to trickle in at 5pm into the Arcadia Community Center, the night was off! People began with drinks – wine, beer, and soft drinks- and conversations with friends both new and old. Smiles and laughter could be seen throughout the entire venue as people genuinely enjoyed the company around them. No matter if you were a guest or a volunteer like myself, this organic start to the event launched the evening in a great direction.
SILENT AUCTION & MORE
The conversations then moved around the silent auction table as people began to bid on prizes ranging from wine and personal care gift baskets to event and vacation getaways. All the while, guests played casino games throughout the evening. Hence, the name of our event is the
showcase activity, and people assuredly moved their conversations to the poker table, roulette, craps, and of course, blackjack tables. Shouts of joy and cries of despair could be heard throughout the ballroom, as I, myself, discovered that many of my friends, whom I’ve known for many years, are more competitive than I thought.
Once the casino tables began to lighten up, it was time for the live auction. As our auctioneer began, people’s paddles went up for nights out at the Laker game, destination vacations in places like Idlewild, Newport Beach, La Quinta and exclusive wine from Paso Robles’ finest vineyards, and so much more. You could feel the energy in the room as more laughter and joy erupted as, seemingly, a chorus of generosity was in the air.
As the live auction wrapped up, the cornerstone of our event commenced: the testimony of a patient family. Iliana Lozado shared a moving testimony of her son, Ayden’s, journey through childhood cancer. Although she claimed not to be a public speaker, she had the whole room in tears, including myself, as I marveled at her son’s bravery…but as I also recalled my own journey through cancer and near-death.
WRAP UP & STATISTICS
As the night came to a close, with Ayden’s inspirational story at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we began our Fund-a-Need campaign. This is where people, now either first knowing or re-familiarizing themselves with Here to Serve’s mission, donate dollar amounts as the auctioneer brings up amounts starting at $5,000 and ending at $50. To say the least, the comparisons from Fund-a-Need last year was inspiring:
- $14,000 – 2022 – $28,000 -2023
As a whole Casino Night had:
- 80 attendees – Raised $5,000 more than last year, $75,000.
As Here To Serve takes a large, positive step into a brighter future with support like yours, we seek to help more families like Iliana and Ayden and create more partnerships with people like you so that we can touch more lives with the work that we do. As a nonprofit, 85 cents of every dollar go to our program to help our children journey through something no child should ever have to endure.
However, although we are always trying to seek ways to expand our partnership network, none of what Casino Night was would have been possible without the partnerships that we have had since the beginning, many of whom attended. We love and appreciate you all so very much. Our exquisite dessert table donated by master baker Krista Jacobsen and her mom, Dana Moline, was a labor of love from this family whom we served years ago when Krista’s daughter battled leukemia as a 6-month-old baby. Everyone feasted on those incredible treats. To all of the attendees, including the new faces, thank you for being with us on such a special night and allowing us the privilege of introducing ourselves to you. We look forward, with heartfelt anticipation, to what the next year has in store for Here to Serve, and we sincerely hope to see you next year at Casino Night.
By Bryan Quintas
Bryan Quintas is a Stage IVV childhood cancer survivor. After battling cancer at 16, he has endured life-long effects from his treatments. Even so, he graduated from USC’s Annenberg School with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He also holds a master’s degree from Fuller Seminary’s School of Clinical Psychology, specifically in Marriage and Family Therapy. He has dedicated his life and career to helping others through life’s challenges.