Kidsave Miracles Gala – Miracles in the Making in LA

GALLERY – Click for full image.

We had a truly magical time at our annual Miracles Gala. The main event was held at the gorgeous Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA – with an accompanying live broadcast (watch it here).

At Kidsave, we’re all about reframing the meaning of family and this year’s Gala was dedicated to that theme.

We began with a lovely reception at the forecourt to Skirball’s Ahmanson Ballroom, where guests arrived dressed to impress. Actors Lisa Joyner and Jon Cryer were some of our guests of honor receiving our Champions for Children Award. Also in attendance were some of the night’s biggest sponsors, Kidsave board members, and some of our Kidsave families and kids.

As people mingled in the courtyard, hors d’oeuvres floated around the room and a string quartet filled the air with music. We had some exciting activities to commemorate the evening – including glitter tattoos and a caricature artist who drew guest portraits on the spot.

As the sun began to set, we drifted into the main ballroom where everyone was seated for dinner with prime seats for our live program. Salads were served, and our charismatic MC, Cory Live, warmed up the room.

The Program Begins

Our Honorees, Lisa Joyner and Jon Cryer were our first speakers of the night – introduced by their good friend Ashton Kutcher. “It’s my honor to present Kidsave’s Champions for Children Award to a couple who I personally know,” Ashton said, “Lisa’s passion is an inspiration for so many.” Continuing, he said, “She has the courage to help us reframe how we think about the creation of family through adoption.” Ashton spoke of his admiration for Jon, saying “I love the guy, beyond his legendary acclaim in film and television, he will tell you that his most cherished role is that of husband and father.”

Accepting their award, Lisa Joyner and Jon Cryer gave a moving speech about their passion for helping children in need. Lisa spoke of her personal experience with adoption and emotional connection with kids in foster care. “I was always told as a child that I was ‘chosen,’” Lisa said, “those three words ‘you were chosen’ reframed how I looked at myself, and how I looked at adoption.” Lisa continued, “most of these kids are 6 years or older and want nothing more than to know they are chosen.” She teared up slightly with that closing statement – and she wasn’t the only one.

The Stories

The next speaker of the evening was Aura Kennedy. Aura lived in foster care in Colombia, and met her parents, Dan and Marla, through Kidsave’s Summer Miracles program. Addressing the crowd, Aura said, “my parents have shown the meaning of loyalty, trust, respect, what it means to be a family.” This summer’s Summer Miracles kids will be arriving in just a few weeks. We hope to help them find the same happiness and stability as Aura.

Following Aura was our passionate CEO and Co-Founder, Randi Thompson, took to the stage. “I never get tired of hearing from our kids,” she said, “I never fail to cry when I hear about how our Kidsave communities help so many find that loving family they need.”

Honoring Ukraine

Next, we honored our brave Angels of Hope in Ukraine. When Russia invaded, our Ukrainian team sprang into action. Led by Pavel and Olena Shulha, a team that was previously helping orphans find families became a heroic rescue team. Since the early days of the war, and continuing to this day, they’ve been traveling to the most dangerous regions in Ukraine to evacuate people. They’ve rescued orphans, families, elderly, with little rest. They began with a goal to save 1,000 people. As of June 13th, they’ve rescued an astounding 20,488. And their work continues.

Of course, we couldn’t have our Miracles Gala without paying tribute to them. Their tales of heroism even caught the attention of a film and tv star, Liev Schreiber. Schreiber met with Pavel in Ukraine a few months ago. He was so impressed, he dubbed Pavel “the real Ray Donovan.” The night of the Gala, Schreiber presented Pavel with Kidsave’s inaugural Angels of Hope award.

Pavel, speaking from Ukraine, addressed the room.

“This wasn’t our work,” he began, “our work was to help older orphans find the families they so desperately need; but on February 24th, we couldn’t sit idly by.” He continued, “we’ve driven in areas with mines, we’ve been fired at, but we do it to help the families and kids who could not make it without us.”

The room was in awe. Pavel and his team have so much heart, and their selflessness in the face of tragedy and danger, is unbelievable. It’s our honor to have them on our team and continue doing all we can to keep kids safe.

Danny

After Pavel was honored, we had another very special guest speaker. Danny, one of our Weekend Miracles Kids, joined us to share his family’s journey. He was introduced by actor Mayim Bialik, who works with one of Danny’s dads. Mayim said, “for older kids who often feel overlooked, the chances of finding a family diminishes with every passing birthday.” She continued, “thankfully, Kidsave is here to champion these kids and give them a voice and a choice in who becomes their forever family.”

Danny was in LA foster care, until finding his dads, Mike and Tom. When Danny spoke, he echoed some of Mayim’s sentiments.

“As an older kid, I knew that my chances weren’t great,” Danny said, “thankfully, Kidsave had my back; I began to realize there were people who not only want us, but need us, too.” His dads, Mike and Tom, looked on proudly as Danny jokingly described their bond. “Over time, I got to know them for the funny and kind people that they truly are,” he said, “and they got to know me for the charming, smart, talented, athletically gifted, and extremely humble kid I am.”

At that, the room erupted into laughter and applause.

Live Auction

Following Danny, we stirred up the energy with our live auction. There were some thrilling items, including once-in-a-lifetime getaways in South Africa and the Caribbean. The bidding got a little competitive, as donors generously fought for the highest bid. We also had some generous matching donations from anonymous donors and sponsors. Together, they raised a substantial amount of money for Kidsave’s programs.

The Night Continues with Song and Dance

The main program ended with a stunning performance of “We Are All Ukrainian,” by the Inner-City Youth Orchestra of LA. Though the program was over, the night was still young. After an emotional evening full of heart-tugging stories, guests were ready to let loose on the dance floor. Kidsave kids, parents, donors, volunteers, and staff danced the rest of the night away in celebration of love and family.

You can watch the taped LA event and donate here.