Drive the Dream 1

A local couple reaches to the stars in helping Childhelp’s annual fundraiser

Each year, more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies nationwide, involving more than 6.6 million children, according to statistics from Childhelp— the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children.

To raise funds for Childhelp and its initiatives, the nonprofit hosts its annual Drive the Dream Gala, which will take place on January 14. Dr. Stacie Stephenson and her husband Richard Stephenson, two philanthropists who are known for giving back to a wide variety of causes across the globe, will chair this year’s event.

“As a doctor, the cause of child abuse and neglect grabbed at my heart—you just don’t get a lot of hands-on experience with those topics in [medical] school,” says Dr. Stacie Stephenson. “An average of five children die every day because of this; something has to be done.”

Stacie Stephenson is the Chairman of Functional Medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where her husband Richard serves as the Founder and Chairman of the Board. She says that they connected with Childhelp when they were invited as guests to a previous gala.

“We’re heavily involved philanthropically in Paradise Valley; we like to be engaged in every community that we are a part of,” Stephenson says. “As chairs, we serve executive roles for the year; and with help from staff and volunteers, we are in charge of managing the event and raising funds. Our goal this year—which we hope to exceed—is to raise one million dollars.”

With years of philanthropy experience under their belts on local, national and international levels, the Stephensons served as the honorary chairs of the gala last year and hosted the kick-off event for this year’s fundraiser.

“You learn something new with each group you volunteer with and each fundraiser you help out with,” Stephenson says. “I love getting to know people and why they donate to the causes they give too—there is always a personal, close-to-the-heart story.”

When asked about the challenges of balancing volunteer work with her career, she admits that it’s sometimes a challenge—but one that is definitely worth it.

“As I’ve learned to execute larger and larger philanthropic events and programs, it’s been a paradigm shift for me from making a difference on a small scale to realizing that these events impact thousands of people.”

After months of hard work, Stephenson is looking forward to this year’s gala, which has a “Journey to Oz” theme.

“When you think about it, the story about the ‘Wizard of Oz’ really touches on some core human values,” she says.

“Like the Scarecrow’s journey, the Lion’s quest and the Tin Man’s search, we will be honoring the mind, courage and heart of a recovering child at this year’s gala,” adds Sara O’Meara, Childhelp Co-founder, CEO and Chairman.

Stephenson says that attendees can look forward to exciting entertainment, fine dining and drinks, dancing, and more. There will also be awards given to influential community members and Childhelp supporters.

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