"A Night for the Children" Gala
by Dustin Waters
More than 200 of Charleston's most generous and caring citizens suited up to attend a sold-out night of auctions, live music, and great food, all in support of the Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC). Now in its 10th year, “The Night for the Children” Gala has raised almost one million dollars to shelter and assist abused, neglected, and at-risk children through various social and educational programs. This year's party was the most successful in the history of the event, achieving a grand total of more than $114,000.
As guests arrived, they were treated to cocktails and hors d'oeuvres prepared and served by McCrady's talented and attentive staff. Menu items included savory Wagyu beef tenderloin served with potatoes galette and delicate local flounder with baked onion and parsley sauce. The night's signature cocktail, the Charleston Mule, was crafted with a touch of mint and Earl Grey- and sage-infused vodka by Enlightened Grain founder Matt Anderson as a Southern take on the classic Moscow Mule.
Mayor Joe Riley was on hand to receive the inaugural Champion for Children Award and speak about the rich heritage of the CYDC, saying, “This community started the first orphanage in America 222 years ago, not because anybody made them or told them to, but because they cared.” The mayor was among several of those who received recognition for their tireless efforts in supporting local children. The evening's other award-winners included Linda Bakker, Neyse Barkley, Judge Robert Mallard, and the Cummins corporation.
Following the award ceremony, a live auction was held to cap off the night. Led by Charleston weatherman Tom Crawford, the auction featured trips to vacation destinations around the world, including the Caribbean and Napa Valley, as well as the opportunity to feel like a local celebrity and throw out the first pitch at a Charleston RiverDogs game. In addition to exotic vacations and one-of-a-kind items, a record number of child sponsorships were auctioned off, with bidders raising a staggering $18,000 during that portion of the evening alone. Each sponsorship will go to support an individual child throughout the next year by purchasing whatever they may need. CYDC CEO Barbara Kelley-Duncan was overwhelmed by the community's show of support, saying, “Our 10th anniversary gala was our best ever, in terms of sponsors, attendees, and funds raised, benefiting the hundreds of children we serve each year.”