It has become a given that Children’s Hospital Colorado puts on a gala to remember. There’s always a ton of food and fun musical entertainment. The live auction features unique items that inspire high bids. But the important part is never forgotten. Guests have the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of patients who become Children’s Colorado Ambassadors—always engaging and funny, but overall, brave kids who want to spread the word about their medical and life successes, as well as help raise money for Children’s Colorado. This year’s gala raised $2.4 million.

(l to r): Tomme Kaplan, Doug Bader, Vicki Bader, Scott Adams and Jennie Kaplan

On Saturday, Sept. 29, around 1,300 supporters gathered at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center for this year’s fall fundraiser. The evening began with a cocktail reception and food stations galore, along with a silent auction and other opportunities for guests to support Children’s Colorado patients and services. After a sumptuous sit-down dinner, the evening’s program began with remarks by Jena Hausmann, Children’s Colorado CEO and Jen Darling, Children’s Colorado Foundation president. Event co-hosts Bruce and Bev Wagner, business leaders and philanthropists, addressed the crowd and were presented with a Children’s red wagon to be placed into service at the hospital in their name. Sisters Maya and Marley joined Hausmann and Darling on stage to talk about their unique story—Marley was a bone-marrow donor for Maya, afflicted with a disease that literally no one else in the world has. Maya also told guests about Dave, her constant stuffed-animal companion, and how he helped her through her medical struggles.

Better than Christmas, because it was a surprise.

Bronco great, Reggie Rivers, presided over an energetic live auction, and then welcomed all of the Children’s Colorado Ambassadors front and center for an informal interview and chat: Nate, 12, and his sister Maddy, 12; Thomas, age 9; Lillian, 11; and Maya. Before a paddle raise, Rivers told the crowd that the Wagners would match the first $200,000 raised during the evening. Generous donors stepped up, with yellow bid cards in abundance.

Zach Heckendorf got the crowd up and dancing with folk-rock tunes—he is a Denver native and former Children’s patient. Following his set, first-ever female rap crew Salt-N-Pepa stormed the stage with continued musical energy. Meanwhile, the after-party outside the ballroom was full of culinary treats and chatter, designed to encourage the crowd to linger and enjoy the evening’s end before traveling home.

Children’s Hospital Colorado is the only nonprofit pediatric hospital in a seven-state region, providing world-class care for more than 230,000 patients every year. Donors allow Children’s Colorado to give families from rural states to major metropolitan areas unprecedented access to expert care and the latest innovations in pediatric medicine. Children’s Colorado is there for every patient in need and embodies its “Here, it’s different” slogan. To learn more, please visit ChildrensColorado.org.

Not only do donations support outstanding clinical programs, but also groundbreaking research to find new treatments and cures for children facing debilitating diseases. Because of generous donors, more kids are healthy, thriving and reaching their full potential. For more information, please visit ChildrensColoradoFoundation.org.

Save the date for next year’s Children’s Hospital Colorado Gala: October 5, 2019.