Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction Raises $1.3 Million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Kevin Irving, CMN Hospital
Annual Gala Raises More Than $1 Million for Fourth Consecutive Year, Totals Over $7 Million for CMN Hospitals in Thirteen Years

Dana Point, CA | March 16, 2018

Organizers of the thirteenth annual California and Nevada Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction have announced that the gala event raised $1.3 million for the eleven Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in California and Nevada.  This is the fourth consecutive year that the event has raised over $1 million for these hospitals.

The California and Nevada Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction is the largest single fundraising event for Credit Unions for Kids, having raised more than $7 million since 2006 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The sold-out event, which took place Friday, March 9th at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California, drew 475 attendees and was supported by 83 credit unions, business partners and hospitals.

“We continue to set new milestones of support each year for CMN Hospitals in California and Nevada, thanks to the amazing efforts and generosity of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers,” said Erin Mendez, event chairman and president and CEO of Patelco Credit Union.  “Actively supporting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is important to credit unions, and we are very pleased to be helping this great organization and the children they serve in our communities.”

The event’s theme “La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life),” set the backdrop for an evening that included fine food, dancing, and both silent and live auctions. Attendees had the opportunity to bid on more than 600 packages that included bottles of fine wine, premium whiskeys, travel getaways, and concerts.

The event’s very special guest was 20 year old Kevin Irving, a CMN Hospital patient at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.  Kevin’s strength and courage inspired attendees as he shared how his journey with sickle cell disease and his experience at the hospital have changed his life.

Since birth, Kevin has battled sickle cell disease, an inherited condition that afflicts approximately 100,000 people in the U.S., and can cause tremendous pain, chronic anemia, serious infections, and damage to organs.  Kevin describes his pain as “feeling like a bear hug from the Incredible Hulk himself, or an overgrown rock inside my body that pushes everything else out of the way.”

However, Kevin’s battle has given him a high threshold for pain, which allows him to be fearless on his skateboard and BMX bike. These hobbies, coupled with his passion for cars, help take his mind off of his disease.  Kevin says, he doesn't allow sickle cell disease to hinder his everyday life or use it as an excuse for being incapable. “Sickle cell isn't a wall for me, but a motivation,” he explains.

The Wine Auction’s vehicle raffle raised over $60,000 for CMN Hospitals, with the winner having the choice of a new car or new Harley Davidson motorcycle, each valued at $25,000, or $25,000 in cash.  The raffle was sponsored by CU Direct.

Pledges totaling $50,000 were made in support of a performance by Joan & Her Jets, starring Joan Opp, CEO of Stanford Credit Union, singing “Daddy’s Hands,” with back-up singers Erin Mendez, CEO of Patelco Credit Union; Diana Dykstra, CEO of California & Nevada Credit Union Leagues; and Teresa Freeborn, CEO of Xceed Financial Credit Union; and arranged by their producer, Wally Murray, CEO of Greater Nevada Credit Union.

The raffle’s winner, Mel Zograbyan, Relationship Manager at California Credit Union, opted for the cash prize, and will be using the winnings to help purchase a car for her son.  Mel had recently committed to donating monthly to charitable causes to help people in the community.
 
The lead Corporate Sponsors of this year’s event were CU Direct, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, CO-OP Financial Services, and CUNA Mutual Group.  As a result of the efforts and contributions of each of these organizations, as well as the event’s other sponsors, 100% of the money raised will directly benefit the eleven Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in California and Nevada.
 
The Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction is directed by an Executive Committee, with the committee’s CEOs representing the benefitting hospital/s in their area:

  • Chairperson: Erin Mendez – Patelco CU (UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland)
  • Hank Barrett – Valley First CU (Valley Children’s Hospital)
  • Carrie Birkhofer – Bay FCU (Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System)
  • John Cassidy – Sierra Central CU (UC Davis Children’s Hospital)
  • Bill Cheney – SchoolsFirst FCU (CHOC Children’s; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)
  • Eric Estes – Boulder Dam CU (Renown Children’s Hospital; St. Rose Dominican Hospitals)
  • Teresa Freeborn – Xceed Financial CU (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)
  • Geri LaChance – SESLOC FCU (Cottage Children’s Medical Center)
  • Brett Martinez – Redwood CU (UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland)
  • Keith Sultemeier – Kinecta FCU (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; CHOC Children’s)
  • Nader Moghaddam – Financial Partners CU (CHOC Children’s; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)
  • Shruti Miyashiro – Orange County's CU (CHOC Children’s)
  • Steve O’Connell – California CU (Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego; CHOC Children’s; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)
  • Steve Renock – Kern Schools FCU (Lauren Small Children’s Center)
  • Debra Schwartz – Mission FCU (Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego)
  • Darren Williams – Wescom CU (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; CHOC Childrens’)