The 13th annual A Special Evening benefiting LaunchAbility was one for the history books. Event co-chairs Piper and Mike Wyatt worked their magic to entice Smokey Robinson to perform during this highly anticipated event, and the R&B legend wowed the sold-out crowd at Meyerson Symphony Center.
More than 500 supporters — including Ebby Halliday, honorary co-chair Caroline Rose Hunt, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Anne and Steve Stodghill, Connie and Marc Sigel, Cathy and Kevin Towery, Muffin and John Lemak, Lynn McBee, Read and Steve Gendler, Niven Morgan, and Shelby Wagner — packed the Meyerson atrium for a VIP reception with cocktails, light bites and conversation — which centered around the upcoming performance, of course.
Emcee Jody Dean of KLUV opened the program by welcoming the crowd, then helped present leadership and service awards to many hardworking individuals. The Wyatts followed by thanking LaunchAbility’s sponsors and supporters, who then watched a video that explained the many services the organization provides.
Elizabeth Harber, who has benefited from LaunchAbility’s supported employment program, shared her story of how the organization has impacted her life, as did Lisa Amigh, whose child, a graduate of the agency’s early childhood intervention program, was included in the video presentation.
Smokey Robinson then took the stage, singing beloved favorites “Being With You,” “Second That Emotion,” “Really Got A Hold On Me,” “Quiet Storm,” and “Ooo Baby Baby.” He also sang a Temptations medley including the song he wrote for them, “My Girl,” during which the audience happily sang the chorus along with him.
Following the show at the private reception, Robinson was warm and personable, hugging all the guests who had their pictures taken with him. A photo opp with Smokey? Bucket list!
“Smokey is a consummate showman and truly held the crowd in the palm of his hand,” said Kathryn Parsons, CEO of LaunchAbility. “I heard numerous supporters of this annual event remark afterward that the entire evening was one of the best ever. Piper and Mike Wyatt were phenomenal and have certainly set the bar for 2015!”
“We have already heard so many compliments on the event, but it’s easy when you remember what the mission is and how this great organization changes lives,” added Mike Wyatt. “I gave Elizabeth Harber a backstage pass after the show, and her smile must have lit the sky until dawn. And it is still with me now. This is what it’s all about.”
Needless to say, it was another successful year for LaunchAbility, a group that is passionate about helping children and adults with developmental disabilities gain the confidence they need to lead fulfilling lives.
“We are most grateful for all of our supporters and want them to know their generosity truly does change lives for children and adults with disabilities,” Parsons said.