On April 28, the JDRF Greater Dallas Chapter hosted its 2018 Dream Gala themed “Oh What a Night!” which raised a record $2.1 in net revenue to support JDRF’s vision of a world without type 1 diabetes (T1D). Each year, the gala raises money to fund research, advocate for government support of research and new therapies, ensuring new therapies to market, and connecting and engaging the T1D community. This year’s Gala was chaired by David Strauss and honored Joe DePinto, president and chief executive officer of 7-Eleven, Inc. Additional committee members included: Scott Paul, corporate chair; Harold, Leigh and Jordon Gernsbacher, Fund A Cure Chairs; and Elle Paul and Kim Lites, Auction Chairs.
Dream Gala guests started arriving at the Omni Dallas Hotel at 6:00 p.m. for a cocktail reception sponsored by Southwest Airlines and paused for photos in front of a step and repeat, which touted Presenting Sponsor 7-Eleven, Inc. along with dozens of other sponsors. Guests wandered through the expansive silent auction, sponsored by Powerhouse Retail Services, to place bids and sip on cocktails and sugar-free 7-Eleven slurpees. With the silent auction under way, patrons were invited into the ballroom for a multi-course dinner including a seasonal field greens salad, seared filet of beef with potato terrine, roasted baby carrots, Brussel sprouts, broccolini and cherry tomatoes in a bordelaise sauce.
Master of Ceremonies and Fox 4 News Anchor Steve Eager kicked off the program with a video highlighting JDRF’s efforts on a local and national level to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without it. JDRF Greater Dallas Executive Director, Amy Camp, then welcomed the audience and noted that this was the largest attended Gala in the history of the Dallas chapter. She exclaimed: “I think I must say…Oh, thank heaven for 7-11!” She specifically recognized Joe DePinto, David Strauss and the 7-Eleven team for their hard work to make the Gala such a tremendous success.
The night continued with speeches and praises of gratitude from JDRF Greater Dallas Board President, Trey Parker, and Aimbridge Hospitality CEO, Dave Johnson, both parents of children with T1D. Special thanks were given to Dream Gala Chair, David Strauss, Scott Paul and the Gernsbacher family, as well as Elle Paul, Jim Lites and all JDRF volunteers. They also offered special thanks to JDRF’s leadership, Board of Directors and advisory committees who are instrumental to the ongoing success of the Chapter. They also recognized the young leaders, JDRF’s Youth Ambassadors, who were in attendance. These children and teens are the real heroes who live with type 1 diabetes every day.
David Strauss, 2018 Dream Gala Chair and 7-Eleven Vice President of Procurement, took the stage to introduce the Gala honoree, Joe DePinto. “When Joe got behind this cause a few years ago and made it a part of 7-Eleven’s corporate philanthropy work, good things happened. In the last six years, including tonight’s proceeds, 7-Eleven has helped raise over 4 million dollars for JDRF. The whole company got behind this cause, thanks to Joe. And tonight, we’ve already raised more money for this annual JDRF dinner than we ever have before. That’s not a coincidence.”
Joe explained why he is so passionate about JDRF saying: “All of us here and across our country are or have been touched in some way by diabetes. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes and type 1 diabetes is one form of this disease. Today, diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the US. current predictions indicate that the number of people with diabetes will double to nearly 60 million by 2040. These are sobering statistics. But amid this challenge, there is great hope. And JDRF is at the forefront of the efforts in driving that hope. I’ve long been impressed by the great work being done by this wonderful organization. They fund research, advocate for government support, help bring new therapies to market, and connect the entire type 1 diabetes community together. JDRF is doing so much to save lives and to improve lives. As you know, JDRF has raised more than just awareness. The organization has raised or directed over $2 billion dollars towards efforts that have improved treatments, as well as researching for a cure!”
As patrons enjoyed dessert, Mark Schenfeld of Stokes Auction Group started the live auction sponsored by Vixxo. The first item was an “Uncork and Unwind” package that included a two-night stay for three couples in Napa Valley, private wine tastings and more. Other spectacular packages included: a 7-Eleven Slurpee Party for 250 guests, Travel with the Dallas Stars, a High-Roller experience at MGM Las Vegas, admission to a live taping segment of The Voice, a Viking Kitchen Dream Kitchen Makeover, a de Boulle Collection Sapphire and diamond pendant, a Luxury Cruise Vacation, a Gene Simmons VIP Vault Experience, a Game of Thrones experience in Ireland, a helicopter ride to Rough Creek Lodge, a VIP Indy 500 Experience, an exclusive wine dinner for 12 at Dee Lincoln Prime, an African Experiences Safari and a serenade by The Midtown Men.
The Fund A Cure presentation followed the live auction, led by Harold Gernsbacher and his daughters Jordan and Leigh. Jordan, a type 1 diabetic since she was 6 years old, spoke passionately about her journey. She, along with her father, shared the story of a day when her late mother gave her three jars to collect money in – one for spending, one saving and one for giving. At the end of the first year, Jordan had $365, which she donated to JDRF. The family tradition of giving has continued, and to honor their commitment, Harold donated $120,365 to kick off Fund A Cure asks. Harold, Jordan and Leigh collectively asked guests to consider giving in any amount they could. After their moving remarks and the successful Fund A Cure program, guests hit the dance floor as The Midtown Men entertained with popular hits from the 1960s.