CASA Celebration 2020 Virtual Gala



Matthew Wadlinger

Chief Communications Officer

(714) 619-5149

CASA Celebration of Children Black & White Ball

Nets Over $850k Through Drive Through Experience + Virtual Gala

Santa Ana, Calif. (October 1, 2020) – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Orange County, held their annual Celebration of Children Black & White Ball, on Saturday, September 26, 2020, virtually for its 35th anniversary event! Over 250 guests tuned in to the livestream to support CASA’s mission of serving abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Orange County with a trained and supported volunteer advocate. This year’s Gala had a net of over $850,000. After having to postpone the original date of March 14th, 2020 due to COVID-19, the event was rescheduled and reformatted into a drive through experience for guests and sponsors prior to the evening’s live telecast. This unique and innovative way of experiencing the gala was overseen and executed by eight longtime CASA supporters who served as this year’s Chairs: Dana Chou, Nancy Eaton, Bobbie Howe, Tyler Mounce, Lourdes Nark, Urvashi Patel, Dana Strader and Wendy Tenebaum.

A cascading balloon arch 14 feet in the air welcomed sponsors and ticker holders to the afternoon drive through experience held in the parking lot of Fete The Venue in Costa Mesa, CA. The parking lot was beautifully transformed by the team at Elite OC Productions. CASA supporters took home stunning individually packaged three course meals (courtesy of Fork in the Road catering), spirits and were able to pick up any winning auction items. Floral arrangements, in hues of coral and white, matching the theme of the event, from Paul Fenner Floral Designs were given out to guests, and everyone had an opportunity to take their photograph in front of a beautifully designed floral step & repeat backdrop designed by Bleu Dahlia .

This year’s honorees included Edwards Lifesciences as Outstanding Corporation, The John Michael Engstrom Memorial Foundation as Outstanding Foundation, Holly and Mark Kerslake as Children’s Champions and Gary Conkle as Advocate of the Year. Gary Conkle’s Advocate of the Year acceptance speech included these excerpts from his CASA matches with two young men, Robert and Landon:

“Robert, himself, struggles with homelessness, depression and addiction.  Robert’s depression has led to multiple suicide attempts.  Working as a team, we were able to get Robert assigned to Teen Court.  The professionals at Teen Court carry lighter caseloads so they can dedicate more time to these high-risk cases.  When I first met Robert he wanted to learn guitar.  He had a heavily damaged guitar that I was able to rebuild.  One fond memory was the day Robert and a public defender played a concert in court for the judge, attorneys and social workers.  Playing guitar is a passion for Robert and helps relieve some of the stress in his life.”

“Landon was removed from his home due to unsafe living conditions and abuse by a neighbor. After multiple failed attempts to find a safe placement, today Landon is living with his adult half-sister and her family in a safe, loving home.  Landon’s resilience and determination to always do his best has enabled him to thrive in spite of this early trauma. Today he is an excellent student and a talented musician.  When I first met Landon, the two things he wanted most was to learn guitar and to play baseball. I was able to get Landon a guitar and through donations from generous people like yourselves, we provided Landon with professional guitar lessons. Today Landon plays 14 instruments, writes, performs and produces his own original music. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Disneyland and marched in the Rose Parade.  He was recently selected to join a highly competitive Gold Honor Drum and Bugle Corps.”  

Auctioneer, Zack Krone, helped facilitate the evening’s livestream gala from the Bright Ideas’ soundstage in Rancho Santa Margarita, which also featured speeches from CASA CEO, Regan Phillips and CASA Board of Directors Chair, Patty Juarez. Zack Krone energized the viewers for the annual Fund the Mission portion of the program which hauled in over $322,000 with donations from CASA supporters ranging from $100,000 to $100. The live auction included a “Wine Collector’s Dream – with a selection of 35 bottles of wine all valued over $200, a choice of 1 of 3 fabulous Twila True Fine Jewelry Suites valued between $16,500 - $19,500, and a “Private Jet to Napa, In Style” which included a 3-night stay in the 5-bedroom Estate House on Italics Vineyard for up to 8 guests and including wine tasting and 8 Versace robes, which was sold twice!

Evening entertainment was provided by Tyler Conti and Daniel Nahmod, who each performed one song during the cocktail reception, and The Brevet, performing two songs during the evening’s program. Special appearances by Mark Sanchez and Kevin McKidd (actor, Grey’s Anatomy) were also included in the evening’s festivities.

About Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Orange County is a privately-funded non-profit organization that serves severely abused, neglected and abandoned children through the recruitment, training and continued support of volunteers who advocate and mentor these children, representing their best interest in the courtroom and other settings. Founded in 1985, with major support from the Junior League of Orange County, we serve annually approximately 750 of the children who move through our court system as a direct cause of abuse and neglect. We are able to serve these children through the generous support of those who donate to CASA as well as the immeasurable compassion and commitment of our CASA advocates. At CASA of Orange County, our mantra is I am for the Child. Learn more about the ways to give to CASA as a means to help us support and protect the rights of our county’s valued children and to give them the nurturing and stability that they deserve. Please visit to learn more.

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