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April 29, 2011 - Cooking Up Success gala sizzles for Invest In Kids

What: Gala fundraiser with cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner prepared by preeminent Denver chefs, program, live auction and dancing

Where: Exdo Event Center

When: Friday, April 29, 2011

Time: 6-11 p.m.

Ticket Prices: Individual: $150; tables for 10 from $1,500 to $15,000

Beneficiary: Invest In Kids

EMCEE: Anne Trujillo, 7News anchor

Gala Chairperson(s): Catherine Goodwillie and Diane Reed

Honorary Chairperson(s): Betsy Crane, Lindsey Gutterman, Amy Middlekauff and Dr. Dean Prina

Co-Chair(s): Auction chairs: Ericka Pardo, Laura Reynolds and Holly Wilcher

Executive Director: Lisa Merlino

Introductions: Board member Sean Waters introducing Gov. John Hickenlooper

Speaker: Rita Erickson

Catering: Donated by: Barolo Grill, Olivea, Cholon, Vesta Dipping Grill, Sushi Sasa, Rioja, TAG and Happy Cakes; breads provided by City Bakery

Music: Mark Andrew, Mix 100FM

Sponsors: Corporate sponsors: The Colorado Trust, Hyde Park, First Bank, The Piton Foundation, Colorado Expression, Go Fish, ADVEnt, Dream Big, Rothberger Johnson & Lyons, United Advertising Corporation and Steele Street Bank & Trust

Auctioneer: Don Martin

Gala Production: Anne Trujillo; Courtney Faust, Saffron Design; Sam Miller, Rehab; Lucas Hughart, The Perfect Petal; Bolder Events; DJ Markie; Exdo Event Center; Jay's Valet; Kelli Kindel Events; LCG Associates; Wright Group Event Services; Qube Signage & Graphics

Menu: TAG: Carmelized South African black ruff; Olivea: Lamb crepinette; Vesta Dipping Grill: Petite tenderloin; Rioja: Whopper torte; Happy Cakes: Mini-cupcakes

Attendance: Sellout crowd of 520

Attire: Evening attire, cocktail or business formal

Special Thanks: TWINKS (Today's Women Investing in Kids)

Hors D'Oeuvres:: Barolo Grill: Vitello tonnato & wild-mushroom bouchvef; Cholon: Lobster shu mai; Sushi Sasa: Diablo Roll


Board of Directors: Gregory Kanan, Catherine Goodwillie, Robert Hill, Eric Hilty, Cathy Lemon, Adele Phelan, James Scarboro and Sean Waters

Blacktie Photos by: Lisa Perry

 IIK Executive Director Lisa Merlino (center) with co-chairs Diane Reed (left) and Catherine Goodwillie
IIK Executive Director Lisa Merlino (center) with co-chairs Diane Reed (left) and Catherine Goodwillie

Even as England celebrated the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, on the other side of the pond Cooking up Success treated more than 500 enthusiastic supporters of Invest in Kids to a regal banquet of delights. The third annual gala, held at the Exdo Event Center, featured a sumptuous sit-down dinner prepared by chefs from eight of Denver’s tastiest restaurants. The sold-out event raised funds dedicated to actively assist Colorado’s most at-risk children and families.

The evening, co-chaired by Catherine Goodwillie and Diane Reed, began with a cocktail reception and silent auction full of enticements, plus an attendee list that was veritable Who’s Who of elected officials and civic leaders. Guests had a chance to chat with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, as well as Denver mayoral candidates Michael Hancock, James Mejia and Chris Romer. Also seen in the crowd were Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Denver District Judge Cathy Lemon, Adams County District Attorney Don Quick, former Colorado secretary of state Bernie Buescher and Children’s Museum president, Mike Yankovich.

Longtime News7 anchor Anne Trujillo and IIK Executive Director Lisa Merlino presided over a program that was both entertaining and endearing. The live auction was handled by bidmaster Don Martin, with out-of-the-box items that included a Washington jaunt with admittance to a taping of “Meet the Press” and lunch with political analyst Bill Schneider. Also on the auction agenda: a plot of 50 teak trees in Costa Rica with an estimated value of nearly $40,000 upon harvest, plus a one-week trip to visit the investment. Guests also participated in a lively round of “Heads or Tails,” with Mary Beth Beuscher emerging victorious in the competitive and strategic bidding for a summer of fun in Boulder. Guest speaker Rita Erickson shared her personal story of struggle and triumph to an attentive crowd, exemplifying the good works of the organization. The evening ended with dancing to tunes spun by Mix 100 personality Mark Andrew.

For more than 12 years, Invest in Kids has been committed to improving the health and well-being of vulnerable young children and families throughout Colorado. Its research-based, proven programs focus on meeting the specific needs of children in low-income families—the organization is unique in indentifying, delivering and measuring the effectiveness of its efforts. Partnering with community leaders, care providers and donors, the organization’s goal is to see every child in Colorado thrive. This year, Invest in Kids was awarded a prestigious Silver Medal rating for program effectiveness from GiveWell, an independent nonprofit-charity evaluator. For more information, visit






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