For the organizers of the 2018 JDRF Dallas Dream Gala, the lavish event really was a dream come true. The fundraiser — themed, appropriately, "Oh, What a Night!" — raised a record $2.1 million toward JDRF's goal of eradicating type 1 diabetes.
This year’s gala, held at the Omni Dallas Hotel, was chaired by David Strauss and honored Joe DePinto, president and chief executive officer of 7-Eleven, Inc. Scott Paul served as corporate chair; Harold, Leigh and Jordon Gernsbacher, as fund a cure chairs; and Elle Paul and Kim Lites, as auction chairs.
As they arrived, guests — including Trey and Rachel Parker, Esther Maldonado, Allison and Derek Dooley, Aaron and Misty Herrington, Allison and Shane Dubose, Debbie Frazier, and Nic Turpin — were treated to a cocktail reception that included a first look at the many silent auction items and sugar-free Slurpees from 7-Eleven.
Ballroom doors then opened for a multicourse dinner highlighted by a seared filet of beef with potato terrine, roasted baby carrots, Brussel sprouts, broccolini, and cherry tomatoes in a bordelaise sauce.
Master of ceremonies, Fox 4 News Anchor Steve Eager, kicked off the program with a video highlighting JDRF’s efforts both locally and nationally to progressively remove the impact of type-1 diabetes from people’s lives. JDRF Greater Dallas executive director Amy Camp welcomed guests and noted that it was the largest-attended gala in the Dallas chapter's history.
Honoree DePinto took to the stage to explain why he is so passionate for JDRF's cause. "I’ve long been impressed by the great work being done by this wonderful organization," he told the audience. "JDRF is doing so much to save lives and to improve lives. The organization has raised or directed over $2 billion dollars towards efforts that have improved treatments, as well as researching for a cure.”
During the dessert course, Mark Schenfeld of Stokes Auction Group conducted a live auction. Bidding was fierce for fabulous items including an “Uncork and Unwind” package for three couples in Napa Valley; a 7-Eleven Slurpee Party for 250 guests; a high-roller experience in Las Vegas; admission to a live taping of The Voice; a Viking kitchen dream kitchen makeover; a Game of Thrones experience in Ireland; and more.
The emotional high point of the night came during a "fund a cure" presentation, led by Harold Gernsbacher and his daughters, Jordan and Leigh. Jordan spoke passionately about her journey through type 1 diabetes, which she was diagnosed with at age 6. To honor the family's ongoing commitment to the cause, Harold donated $120,365 to kick off the live-ask event. Patrons around the room pledged donations at whatever amount they could afford.
To end the evening on a celebratory notes, guests hit the dance floor as The Midtown Men entertained with popular hits from the 1960s.
The annual Dream Gala raises money to fund type-1 diabetes research, advocate for government support of research and new therapies, and connects and engages the diabetes community.