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September 30, 2003 - Adoption Exchange Goes on a Wild Safari

What: The Adoption Exchange's 20th Anniversary of Connecting Children and Families

Where: Wildlife Experience, Parker

When: October 4, 2003

Beneficiary: The Adoption Exchange

Honoree(s): Dr. Dixie van de Flier Davis, Founder and Executive Director

EMCEE: Bill Stuart and Kathy Walsh of CBS 4

Presenting Sponsor(s): Grills Family Foundation and Padgett Family Foundation

Honorary Chairperson(s): Mayor John Hickenlooper

Co-Chair(s): Pam Kiker and Linda Rankin and Liz Smith

Catering: Monie Monique's Catering

Entertainment: The Tokens, the original recording artist of the hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

Sponsors: Gala: Grills Family Foundation and Padgett Family Foundation; Silver: Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, Midtown Occupational Health Services, Starz Encore Group; Bronze: LL Cassaday Company, The Clean Team, CBS 4, Colorada State Bank and Trust, Epicurean Catering, Fleisman & Shapiro, Jeremy and Angie Flug, Holme Robers & Owen, The Kiker Team Keller Williams Realty, Regal CineMedia, Sheridan Ross, Stolberg Equity Partners, Ron and Nastassja Zappolo

Auctioneer: Norm Early

Quote of the evening: "I LOVE doing this," said honoree Dixie van de Flier Davis, regarding her position. "I was loved as a child and I want other children to have that."

Attendance: 320

Attire: Safari cocktail

Information: 303.775.4756 or

Decor/Rental Company: John Quaiel Designs and Fastlane Productions

Blacktie Photos by: Elizabeth Byrnes

 Honoree Dr. Dixie van de Flier Davis, founder and Executive Director of The Adoption Exchange, gives members of The Adoption Exchange Jr. Board and former Wednesday’s Children, hugs and kisses of thanks
Honoree Dr. Dixie van de Flier Davis, founder and Executive Director of The Adoption Exchange, gives members of The Adoption Exchange Jr. Board and former Wednesday’s Children, hugs and kisses of thanks

Elizabeth Byrnes

“In the jungle... the mighty jungle... the lion sleeps tonight,” sang The Tokens, from their hit song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” However, there were no sleeping animals (lions or otherwise) at the 2003 Safari Fantasy for The Adoption Exchange. Over 300 safari-clad guests walked into the jungle at the Wildlife Experience on October 4th for the 16th Annual Fantasy Ball, celebrating 20 years of connecting children and families.

Life-like animals greeted guests as they wandered through the cocktail hour, checking out the many wonderful silent auction items including two tickets to Celine Dion, VIP passes to Universal Studios, a bronze limited edition desktop sculpture of “The Broncos” fountain and a slim plasma television.

Executive Director Dr. Dixie van de Flier Davis was honored at the 20th Anniversary by Shanti Simpson, Emily Potisk, Wayne Vaughan and J Jackson, former Wednesday's Children and Adoption Exchange Jr. board members, with the Wednesday’s Child Award for her outstanding commitment to the organization and her tireless efforts making sure one more child finds a safe and happy home.

“I want to look back on my life and be satisfied with how I spent my time,” said honoree Dr. Dixie van de Flier Davis, wearing green, her trademark color (even her car is a bright lime green!). “I know that when I close the office each night, one more child has been adopted.” Honorary Chair Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper greeted guests along with CBS 4’s Bill Stuart and Kathy Walsh, the emcees for the evening, and Dinner Chairs Liz Smith, Pam Kiker and Linda Rankin. Past and present board members and honorees were present, as well as Dixie’s family and good friend Mary Sullivan, who flew in from Northern Virginia as a surprise. CBS 4’s Brooke Wagner, the official Wednesday’s Child Anchor, was not able to attend the ball, as she was nursing a bad cold. It was both a birthday celebration and a reunion for many of the guests including Bill Stuart, one of the earliest Wednesday’s Child Anchors. Twenty years ago, he met Emily Potisk, a former Wednesday's Child, when he interviewed her for the Wednesday's Child segment…and was around to give her a hug at the 20th Anniversary Celebration. Mom Jan Rice beamed from ear to ear as she addressed the crowd. “Because of The Adoption Exchange, I was blessed with Emily,” she said, as she watched her little girl (now a young lady) mingle in the crowd. The Adoption Exchange opened its doors in 1983 and was established on the belief that every child is entitled to be with a family filled with love and contentment. These children, survivors of severe abuse and neglect, have been removed from their birth families by the child welfare system. The organization works with public and private adoption agencies in Colorado and throughout the country to provide the connection between families who adopt and children who wait.

For the past 16 years the Fantasy Ball has become a signature event for The Adoption Exchange, providing critical operating funds for the programs and services. Twenty years of success and the funds raised have translated into finding “forever families” for over 3,800 children.

One of the event sponsors, CBS 4, is part of the large support team that helps The Adoption Exchange reach its goals. The news station KCNC CBS 4 promotes Wednesday's Child, a one-minute segment that airs every Wednesday on the 5PM and 10PM news, highlighting the childhood and history of a child awaiting adoption.

No sooner had the dinner dishes been cleared away and the live (and animated) auction had concluded when The Tokens took to the stage. They soon had the dance floor packed to overflowing with “The Night We Fell in Love,” “One Fine Day,” and their hit song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The dancing lasted late into the evening and came to an emotional close when The Tokens sang "Prayer of the Children.”

“To see who really won this award tonight,” said Dixie, “look across the table at your neighbor and that’s the person who deserves this honor.” A determined lady, known for her compassion, dedication and fiery red hair – she also had the last word. “I share the pride of this honor, but you know…we’ve got lots more work to do…”

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