Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation Celebrates its Third Annual Ladybug Ball
This year, Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation celebrated our third Annual Ladybug Ball at Aria Resort, the flagship hotel in the heart of City Center, Las Vegas. Celebrity chefs and entertainment delighted our more than 300 guests while helping to raise money for the only charity in Nevada for children who are blind.
Local news celebrities, Kim and Dana Wagner from NBC’s “Wake Up With The Wagners” emceed the ball again. As strong community supporters, Kim and Dana bring a lot of enthusiasm and laughter to any event.
Gourmet chefs designed each course and spoke to the audience about each of their individual culinary creations. Chef Megan Romano, owner of local Chocolate and Spice Bakery, topped off dinner with a homemade snickers that had everyone buzzing.
The evening’s silent auction was a success; I took home a few gems myself- literally.
What is a Ladybug Ball and how did it begin?
So, where does the ladybug fit into the picture, and how did Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation get its start? These are the most common questions I receive from residents of one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. when learning of our mission to build resources for the underserved population of Nevada’s blind youth.
I often tell the story of that defining moment when the idea for Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation was conceived. Frustrated by the lack of services for children who are blind and their families in Nevada, and exhausted from hunting down and piecing together any information, I concluded that our family would need to move to another state in order for our son, Connor, to receive the appropriate resources for his disability. I selected Phoenix as my first choice because of the incredible resources, school inclusion programs and experts in the area of educating children who are blind.
“No, if there’s no school or services here,” my husband responded, “we’re going to stay and build one.” Sigh. When my husband, Kevin, makes a statement like this, he means it. As a fourth generation Nevadan and business owner, Kevin felt it was his duty to stay here and build something for other families dealing with the same lack of expertise and services, as well as the many families and children to come.
In 2005, Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation opened its doors to the first resource library, technology center, parent resource group and services to children who are blind in Nevada and their families.
May is National Blindness Awareness Month; and thanks to former mayor, Oscar Goodman, it’s also Nevada Blind Children’s Awareness Month (as of 2007). May is also the time of year when ladybugs emerge to delight gardeners and bug lovers, like my Brooke.
I was part of the process and panel to choose our logo and mascot for NBCF. And while looking at the mock-up of the ladybug logo, began to wonder about the black dots on the ladybug’s wings. I wondered if the dots on a ladybug meant something.
There are several myths about the meaning of a ladybug’s black dots. For example, it’s an old wive’s tale that if a ladybug lands on a young woman it foretells how many children she’ll have by the number of spots on it. Some farmers believe that a ladybug’s dots can predict the success of the following season’s harvest.
So, much in the same way a person who is blind relies on little dots to read and learn, a ladybug is fabled to use black dots to communicate information as well.
The Ladybug Ball
Just a few years after adopting the ladybug as the official mascot for NBCF, we held our first Ladybug Ball at the Las Vegas Design Center at World Market. And last year, our 2011 Ladybug Ball was held at the stunning Bellagio Hotel.
The Epicurean Charitable Foundation was NBCF’s 2012 Conner Award Honoree and have been major supporters of NBCF, even providing the evening’s food and beverage through local foundation members and students from UNLV’s culinary department. The Conner Award was created in 2010 to honor supporters of Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation, and was named after its founder, Conner Spilsbury.
The beautiful Aria Resort was the backdrop of this year’s Ladybug Ball, which would not have been possible or such a huge success without the hard work and dedication of Directors, Lori Moroz-White and Linda Maneen, along with Leslie Jones.
Raising Money for Programs
Why is this event so important? The Ladybug Ball is the biggest fundraising event for Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation. With only two employees, the foundation relies on volunteers and community supporters to keep programs open and available for children who are blind in Clark County. The money raised in one evening will fund our after school homework help program, technology classes, Braille library and playgroups along with our fun annual programs for the kids like Beeper Baseball, Beepin Egg Hunt and Holiday Party for an entire year.
To learn more about the importance of NBCF program, listen to the parents and children themselves:
Because Everyone Needs Their Own Spot. Nevada is one of two states in the U.S. with no school for the blind, and I can write another chapter on what this means for children who are blind in Nevada and their families. The bottom line, however, is that it means a lack of expertise in our state for educating and mainstreaming children who are blind. It also means that many parents are making the decision to move away from extended family and friends to other states so their children can receive the appropriate services.
NBCF Director, Linda Maneen, said it best when she described that in order for any child to compete in a classroom today, they must possess and master the basic technology and social media skills. This is just one of the reasons funding for NBCF programs is so important, because it’s the only place that teaches these skills specifically to blind children.
Guests went home with some goodies in a reusable NBCF bag (which I still use for grocery shopping), with items ranging from Patron Tequila, containers from the Container Store, beaded necklaces, gourmet popcorn and, my favorite- Real Water.
For a complete stream of the evening’s photos from local photographer, Jennie Slade Photography, visit Ladybug Ball 2012 Photos. We want to thank Jennie for capturing the evening’s success in just the right “light”.
What You Can Do
For more information about how you can help make the difference in the lives of Nevada’s children who are blind and their families, visit nvblindchildren.org.