The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer hosted its 26th annual Evening Under the Stars Gala Dinner & Charity Auction on Saturday to support the fight against pediatric cancer.
“It was the first event that we put together after forming our volunteer group,” said co-founder Chris Hoefflin, who lost his 10-year-old son Michael to brain cancer in 1996. “It’s been 25 years (for the foundation), but this is our 26th because it started right at the very beginning.”
This is the foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year, and Hoefflin said it’s important for two reasons.
“The funds that it raises, but also the awareness because it gives us the opportunity to really tell the story in an uplifting way and in a setting where people can really enjoy themselves, so it’s a very special event for us,” he added.
Proceeds from the event are expected to help the foundation to support families dealing with childhood cancer by providing them with financial assistance, such as with gas, groceries, support group meetings and family outings, all of which are crucial to families dealing with the emotional and unexpected financial burden of cancer, according to organizers.
During the evening, guests heard from families who spoke about their experiences with pediatric cancer, in addition to a sit-down dinner catered by Salt Creek Grille, live music performed by Radical 80’s, and both a silent and live auction.
While many were there to support the foundation, including representatives from many of the organizations they work with throughout the year, most were also there to celebrate.
“When I was going through treatment, they were a huge moral support,” cancer survivor Tyler Cordova said, adding that events such as this gala were a big part in boosting his spirits.
Tyler was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was just 4 years old.
“The very first night we were in the hospital room, we got a care kit from Michael Hoefflin (Foundation),” Tyler’s mother and co-chair of the board Holly Cordova said. “They were a tremendous help for the entire time that Tyler was in treatment, which was about six years.”
Now, Tyler is 17, and will be applying to some of the foundation’s college scholarships this year, which as a board member is Holly’s favorite aspect of the organization.
“Seeing the kids get to a point where they’re able to go to college — it’s so exciting and heartwarming to see,” she said.
For co-founder Sue Hoefflin, the importance of the foundation is really helping the families with simple things, like gas or grocery cards.
“When you’ve gone through it with them and seen what their worst is, then you see them come (to the gala), they’re happy and they’re enjoying life a little bit, it’s really indescribable for me,” she said.
And while they can celebrate what they’ve already accomplished, there’s always more to be done, she added.