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November 19, 2005 - Adoption Exchange: Home is Where the Heart Is

What: Adoption Exchange 18th Annual Fantasy Ball

Where: Donald R. Seawell Grand Ballroom, Denver Performing Arts Center

When: November 19, 2005

Time: 6:00 p.m.: cocktails and silent auction; 7:30 p.m.: dinner and live auction

Ticket Prices: $175 individuals; $500 patron couples; $3,000-10,000 corporate sponsor

Beneficiary: The Adoption Exchange, programs and services

Mistress of Ceremonies: Brooke Wagner, CBS 4

Master of Ceremonies: Ed Greene, CBS 4

Honorary Chairperson(s): Doug and Jane Moe

Co-Chair(s): Don and Judi Butt, Ron and Nastassja Zappolo

Executive Director: Dixie van de Flier Davis

Committee Members: David Alexander, Marian Aylmer, Rose Blaylock, Chris & Laura Boggs, Jane Christie, David & Marcia Christofferson, Jill DiPasquale, Amy Ellsworth, Cathy Griffin, Mary Griffin, Michelle Karl, Jodi Kostelnik, Susan Larkin, Trisha Moore, Natalie Lyon, John Quaiel, Roselyn Saunders, Ryta Sondergard, Karyn songer, Meredith von Tscharner, Cindy Wilkinson, nancy Williams-Johnson

Libations: Black Opal Shiraz and Chardonnay

Catering: Epicurean Catering

Entertainment: Comedy by John O'Hurley

Music: Funkiphino

Sponsors: Platinum Sponsor: The Padgett Family Foundation; Gold Sponsors: Jeremy and Angie Flug; Grills Family Foundation, Venoco Inc.; Silver Sponsors: Denver Nuggets/Kroenke Sports Charities, Edgemark Development LLC/ Lottner Rubin Fishman Brown & Saul P.C., The Kiker Team-Keller Williams Realty, Larkin & Miller Ophthalmology Associates; Bronze Sponsors: CBS 4, Colorado State Bank and Trust/ Bank of Oklahoma Energy, Concrete Express, Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman PC, Fransen Pittman General Contractors,, Holme Roberts & Owens LLP, Mary Kelly & Dan Reilly, Masque Publishing, McDonnell Family Foundation, Merrill Corporation, Oster Jewelers, Qwest Communications, Wendy's International, Ron & Nastassja Zappolo.

Auctioneer: John O'Hurley, Auction & Event Solutions, Inc.

Quote of the evening: "Our lives are not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."--Dixie van de Flier Davis, Executive Director of the Adoption Exchange

Menu: Roasted red & yellow beet stack, seasoned breadsticks, grilled tenderloin, leek conift & roasted fingerling potatoes topped with a cabernet butter sauce, creme brule with fresh fruit with chocolate mousse rosette

Attendance: 440

Attire: Black tie optional

Special Thanks: Fox 31 for event promotion

Florist: David Swanson


Event Coordinator: Jacki Propernick

Board of Directors: Larry Barnaby, Laura Boggs, Linda Cassaday, Clement Cobbs, Leslie Craig, Barbara Dalberg Ph.D., Paul Egan, Annetta Gallagher, Cynthia Gambil, Honey Goldberg, Tom Goodyear, Robert Griffith, Richard Harris, Greg Karl, Pam Kiker, Susan Larkin, Edward Rand, Honorable Nancy Saitta, Elaine Torres, David Zinger; General Counsel: Janet Perlstein. Honorary Directors: Tangy Buchanan, Larry DiPasquale, Jeremy Flug, Elaine Ganz-Berman, Marlene Krell, Jane Moe, Roger Ogden, James Padgett, Marv Rockford, Charles Steinbrueck, Larry Walker.

Blacktie Photos by: Pamela Cress

 Co-chairs Ron and Nastassja Zappolo, left, and Judi and Don Butt
Co-chairs Ron and Nastassja Zappolo, left, and Judi and Don Butt

Pamela Cress

"Every child should be able to dance on the toes of a parent." A simple sentiment, one discussed by the guild members of the Adoption Exchange and one that many people take for granted. But those who have no families, no schools, no hugs, and no dances have hope through the Adoption Exchange.

The 18th annual Fantasy Ball "Dance with Me" highlighted this thought through a phenomenal fundraising effort November 19th at the Donald Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Fittingly, the star of the evening was John O'Hurley, well known as the smooth hoofer on the popular show "Dancing with the Stars."

More than 440 guests mingled in the romantically lit ballroom and perused 165 silent auction items including sports packages, food and wine certificates, "Kid's Corner" prizes, and even a bowling date with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Co-chairs Judi and Don Butt and Nastassja and Ron Zappolo greeted guests along with honorary chairs Doug and Jane Moe. Jewelry lovers got a chance to buy a key on a beaded chain for $20 to win a unique necklace specially made by artist Sheri MaKenna Moore.

Master and Mistress of Ceremonies, CBS 4's Ed Greene and Brooke Wagner, began the award presentations as attendees sat down to a scrumptious feast whipped up by Larry DiPasquale's Epicurean Catering, including a mouthwatering beef tenderloin.

First on the stage were well known ex-coach of the Denver Nuggets, Doug Moe, and his even better known wife, "Big Jane." Jane Moe was the chair of the first Fantasy Ball 18 years ago and graciously thanked the crowd for their continued support. Doug Moe told everyone, "I'm thrilled to be here; of course I'm thrilled to be anyplace." They introduced their seven-year-old granddaughter Lyndie Moe, who yodeled and danced her way into the crowd's hearts with her rendition of "Cowboy Sweetheart." She is definitely a star in the making and has the Moe charisma with no shyness anywhere in sight.

In honor of the fact that November 19 was National Adoption Day, the support for this cause is unparalleled. The Padgett Family Foundation was a generous platinum sponsor, and the gold, silver and bronze benefactors were also acknowledged with thanks.

An impromptu side entertainment show developed when Shari Cahill was dared by her neighbor Tim Marcus to come on stage and do her "Woody Woodpecker" impression. She successfully rose to the task, as did Marcus who gave $3,000 to the Adoption Exchange as a reward.

Keeping with the theme for the evening, a beautiful song written by guild member Mary Griffin was sung by Cathy Griffin and Kenny Parks called "Dance with Me."

Co-chairs Don and Judi Butt and Ron and Nastassja Zappolo took a well-deserved bow. Nastassja told the crowd that she herself was up for adoption as a child and never got adopted. Ron told the crowd that his wife has gone on to be the proud mother of six children, and it is evident that her unhappy childhood did not deter her from becoming a well-adjusted, happy and healthy adult.

Then came time for the Wednesday's Child Award, this year given to the McDonnell Family Foundation in honor of their extraordinary dedication and commitment to family values and a shared belief that every child is entitled to a family filled with love and contentment. A video was projected on the large screens depicting the tireless efforts of the McDonnells, including their "Buckaroo Stampede" fundraiser held last September at Grand River Ranch at which $415,000 was raised.

The McDonnells are chairs of the Adoption Exchange's major gifts campaign, which has now raised 73 percent of its $2,225,000 goal. The campaign will expand and incorporate new vital programs to help support adopting families through their life-long journey. It will also empower and train adoption professionals, adoptive families and be an active voice for the children. Pat and Jack O'Donnell became involved with the Adoption Exchange as a lead gift donor to the first capital campaign, playing a critical role and making it possible to purchase the Colorado headquarters building.

John O'Hurley then charmed the audience with his hilarious stories about his career, including stints on "Seinfeld," as the host of a national dog show, and most recently being profiled in People Magazine as the "sexiest man alive." He kept guests rolling in the aisles talking about his life escapades and his wife Lisa, whom he adores and who "still after 13 months has that new wife smell."

Speaking of his recent celebrity golf outing in which he was given odds of 500-1, O'Hurley said, "500-1!! If Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Simmons were on Fantasy Island at the end of the world, that's 500-1!" He showed his own rendition of the Tiger Woods video "How I Did It," and then segued into the live auction, where he charmed and tugged at the egos of the audience until he got high bids out of every participant.

Included in the auction was a 21-karat gold peridot and amethyst necklace and earrings designed by Karim Mulji, donated by Oster Jewelers and modeled by Lisa O'Hurley, who almost got thrown in on the deal by her husband getting carried away by bidders.

A fantastic trip to the Silverado Resort in Napa was next, donated by Chris and Patty Bias, Sam and Karen Watson and Frontier Airlines. O'Hurley kept playing up the egos of two highest bidders, keeping the competition going until he got top dollar. "I do have parenting experience, joked O'Hurley during the auction. "I adopted a stretch of highway in Los Angeles."

Then he moved on to a Michael Jordan-autographed Nike basketball donated by the Denver Nuggets, and then a trip to New York and three-night stay at the historic Sherry-Netherland Hotel. O'Hurley decided on the spur of the moment to throw in house seats to his Broadway show "Chicago," and when bidding went up to $6,500, donor Marlene Krell came up and told O'Hurley she would throw in two trips at that price, instantaneously raising $13,000 for the Adoption Exchange.

O'Hurley finished off the fun by auctioning off a dance with himself, a value considered "priceless," especially since he had the crowd reciting his "sexiest man alive" moniker in unison. The animated audience urged honorary board member Larry DiPasquale to keep bidding, chanting "Larry, Larry, Larry!" When the bid reached $7,500, O'Hurley offered himself up twice, doubling that prize also. DiPasquale's wife Jill came up to accept and thank O'Hurley for his generosity and wonderful performance, then gave the dance to her mother Marian Aylmer, sitting at the next table, who was thrilled beyond belief and told O'Hurley she was going to dance his socks off. The other dance went to Marcia Christofferson, who waltzed her way around the dance floor with O'Hurley, bringing visions of Princess Diana's twirl with John Travolta.

Adoption Exchange's Executive Director Dixie van de Flier Davis closed the awards, telling the crowd what it means for a child to find a loving family. "These children remind us of things they use to test the permanency of their adoptions: getting braces, going on family vacations, being included in pictures in Christmas cards."

Before the night ended, attendees were asked to raise their hand to support various programs. It takes $2,500 to sponsor a family in the adoption process, and when O'Hurley asked for volunteers to make this happen, bidding numbers flew up across the room. Similar reactions came in response to the call for $1,000 for an adoption matching party and $500 for production of a Wednesday's Child television show, locally anchored by CBS 4's Brooke Wagner.

O'Hurley had everyone wound up by the time he left the stage, so they had overflowing energy to dance to the '70s sounds of Funkiphino. It was a magical evening, enough to make it possible for many, many kids to dance on the toes of a loving parent.

The Adoption Exchange is not an adoption agency. It is a place for the exchange of resources on behalf of dozens of adoption agencies. When an agency is unable to locate a family for a waiting child, the agency uses The Adoption Exchange to find a family. The children who wait are the survivors of abuse and neglect. They are school-aged children, brothers and sisters, children of minority heritage or disabled children. These children live in a series of foster and group homes for an average of four years, waiting and hoping for the stability and love of a permanent adoptive family.

Through services provided by The Adoption Exchange, vulnerable children in need of families are adopted and those families are supported. Children adopted from foster care are able to recover from past trauma and move forward to build skills that will help them be productive and successful in the future. They are given the opportunity they deserve to reach their potential to live happy lives, to raise healthy children, and to help our communities thrive.

The Adoption Exchange serves and registers children from an eight state region - Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota Utah and Wyoming. There are full offices with staff in New Mexico, Nevada, Missouri and Utah. They are in their 22nd year of operation, and there have been 4,121 placements of children with adults.

Each week local news stations KCNC in Denver, KKTV in Colorado Springs, KLAS in Las Vegas, and KUTV in Salt Lake City, feature a child or sibling group in need of an adoptive family in a program called Wednesday's Child. The stations generously donate their time and their skills to help find families for the children. In addition, recruitment efforts have been expanded in Spanish-language media outlets through gracious partnerships in airing "Buscando un Hogar" with KTFD in Denver and KLUZ in Albuquerque. The stories highlight the personalities of the children by featuring them participating in some of their favorite activities. Each year more than 65 percent of the children featured on the Wednesday's Child segment find permanent, loving and stable homes.

A capital campaign was just completed, exceeding expectations and raising more than $1.6 million, allowing the construction of a new building. All of the money that used to have to go toward rent and expenses now goes directly to the children.

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