Proclamation from Governor John Hickenlooper read: I Hereby Proclaim April 26, 2014, to be the Kempe Foundation and Walter Imhoff Day.
The 29th Kempe Foundation Gala honored Denver’s favorite man of the hour, philanthropist, Walter Imhoff, b.1931-2014. It all opened on a high pitch Saturday night, April 26, 2014.
People were raring to get started. Registration opened at 6:00 but the line started forming at 5:30 p.m. The Seawell Ballroom was a beautiful sight to see with elegant colorful spring flower centerpieces situated throughout the ballroom. Visitors were hit with color everywhere they looked from the stage, to the mountain greenery decor, to the tiny twinkling ceiling lights that set the evening’s gala tone. The event got underway before 6:00 p.m. as people started to register their auction numbers in their phone. Yes, their phones. The under-50 set couldn’t have been happier. It gave the phone techies the best excuse ever to look at their phones throughout the evening. Between the bidding and selfies taking place, Walt would have been amused and proud to see the crowded room and rapid fire bidding. It is suspected at this time, to have gone over the goal of $100,000.
As the live auction kicked into high gear, auctioneer Paul Behr kept the guests on edge as he challenged them time and time again for bids of $100,000, $20,000, $10,000, and so on. When he called for a $100 bid from everyone in the room, the yellow live-auction cards flew like balloons into the air.
At 7:00 p.m. Cheryl Preheim took to the stage to introduce the first of the night’s entertainment. It couldn’t have been more appropriate or more color coordinated. The young performers were dressed in white chinos and polo shirts of spring pastel colors such as blue, yellow, green, coral and pink. The Children’s Chorale opened the evening’s entertainment bringing smiles to the high energy kick off for the celebration. Special was a tribute to Mississippi Blues legend Robert Johnson from Big Head Todd (Todd Park Mohr). And last but not least, the guests on the floor were boot scootin’ and dancin’ with music from The Bucksteins, Denver’s popular country-western band. What a party night for the loyal supporters of the Kempe Foundation.
Business was up front as Cheryl and Kempe Foundation volunteers announced this year’s awards. All honorees were from within our community and are dedicated professionals working diligently to protect children from abuse and neglect. The first award of the night was the Imhoff Family Community Award to David Savitz. He is a seasoned trial lawyer who advocates zealously for perpetrators and victims of abuse. It’s not widely known that he proudly holds the title as one of the longest standing Kempe Foundation board members.
Kathyrn Wells, MD, FAAP, was the recipient of the 2014 Professional Award for creating a foster care clinic at Denver Health. The clinic provides an emphasis on mental health screening and treatment. She works tirelessly to improve services for pregnant women with addictions and to create a better system for detection of substance abuse. Kathryn is on the Colorado State Foster Parent Association Board and President of the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
State Senator Linda Newell received the 2014 Child Advocacy Award. Serving her second term for Arapahoe County, Newell has made child warefare a top priority. She was appointed Vice Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in 2013, and serves as a solid advocate for all abused and neglected children of Colorado.
By the time Big Head Todd stepped onto stage the guests were ready. He performed without flaw a medley of Mississippi Blues from the legendary Robert Johnson. Then as the party wrapped up,The Bucksteins took the stage and stomped out the finale for the 29th Annual Kempe Foundation Gala.
Look out, next year is the 30th Annual Kempe Foundation Gala.