WINONA LAKE — Fall has officially started and Joe’s Kids celebrated with their annual tailgate themed dinner and auction fundraiser.
The fundraiser was held this evening at the Heritage Room, Winona Lake. Guests arrived for the event around 4:30 p.m. in their best tailgate uniforms to socialize and bid on silent auction items. The official program started at 6 p.m, with the live auction following.
Many people influential to Joe’s Kids took to the stage during the program to talk about the influence the organization has on the community. Josh Wildman, board president; Jeff Rockett, Parkview Health, Warsaw; Rich Haddad, president and CEO at K21 Foundation; Ted Westerhof, United Way of Kosciusko County; and Rebecca Bazzoni, executive director of Joe’s Kids all spoke.
A short video was shown before the presentations that talked about how Joe’s Kids is moving to a new location in December with the help of the K21 Foundation. The current location on Commerce Drive, Warsaw has been outgrown. The new building will allow Joe’s Kids to continue to grow by holding parenting classes, student education for high school and college students, continuing education classes for staff members and accepting more patients.
“We have been thrilled to be able to grow,” said Bazzoni. “We are really excited about our new home. This is a huge gift from the K21 Foundation.”
Businesses and individuals were able to start bidding for sponsorship of the new Physical Therapy Gym. The room will be named after the winning sponsor. Bids will be accepted for the sponsorship through the weekend.
During the presentation, two very special donations were announced.
Sophia Long, a patient of Joe’s Kids, passed away suddenly on Aug. 18. Instead of flowers, her family asked for donations to be made for the creation of the Sophia Long fund. This fund has been completely donated to Joe’s Kids for the creation of a jungle gym, complete with a ball pit and a zipline. The gym will be known as Sophia’s Playground in her memory.
A surprise gift was made during a video presentation while Bazzoni was still on stage. Her parents, Don and Laura Davis, were unable to be present at the auction so they created a video from Hamilton, Montana. During the video, they announced a $10,000 donation in honor of Don’s West Point graduation class.
After the presentations, the live auction began. The whole evening was held to raise funds for Joe’s Kids, a nonprofit organization providing physical, occupational and speech therapy for children with developmental delays.
In 2015, the first year of the auction raised over $95,000. The proceeds went to Joe’s Kids to help with the day to day operations and of course to support the kids.