No cause brings people together quite like children in need — especially those in third-world countries. So Dallas movers and shakers recently gathered at the Goss-Michael Foundation for the second annual UNICEF Experience in our city.
The event started in Atlanta in May 2011. "The North Texas board of directors loved the concept and was eager to bring this unique event to Dallas," said Robert Thompson, UNICEF's senior vice president of development.
This was more than your standard fundraiser; it was a hands-on learning experience. Guests tasted a peanut-based paste similar to the nutritional food packs given to children in developing countries. And a water-walk exhibit enabled UNICEF supporters to feel the weight of the 40-pound filtered-water containers that girls carry back to their villages.
"This past fall I went to Mongolia on my first UNICEF field visit," national chair and UNICEF ambassador Vern Yip (from HGTV) told us. "Hearing about the challenges children face is entirely different from getting the opportunity to see it firsthand, which is why the UNICEF Experience is so unique."
During the educational affair, chic guests — including Brian Bolke, Lynn and Allan McBee, Sheryl and Eric Maas, Jessica Olsson Nowitzki, Joyce Goss, and Kenny Goss — learned about UNICEF's innovative programs in emergencies, education, water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and child protection. They also had the opportunity to be purchase UNICEF inspired gifts, from micronutrient powder and motorbike ambulances to emergency tents and HIV test kits, which aid children in more than 150 developing countries.
With a UNICEF motorbike helmet on his head, Thompson led the auction while audience members raised their hands to purchase these gifts. The first UNICEF Experience app — which teaches people about the exhibits and enables them to donate via smartphone — was also debuted at the charitable fete. The evening brought in $285,000, exceeding last year's total by $40,000.
After the auction, emboldened supporters — event chair Rich Moses, Catie and Aaron Enrico, Sallie and Cavan Groves, Faisal Halum, Jo Marie Lilly, Gowri and Alex Sharma, Selwyn Rayzor, Jill Cochran, Eli Jacobs, and Sally and Forest Hoglund — captured the spirit of the night in a photo booth. They also left believing that one day soon, no more children will die due to preventable and treatable conditions.