The autumn season is the time for galas and fundraisers in Austin. While perusing the list of events, we came upon the Gold Gala hosted by the Sweet Pea Gallery benefiting a non-profit that assists families battling childhood cancer. We couldn’t think of a more worthy cause to support.
Jaquelyn Sky was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is in her memory that the foundation raises awareness of childhood cancer and provides housing assistance to families battling the disease. Through the Sweet Pea Gallery, children are given a creative way (selling their art) to contribute to the cause. More information on how you can help can be found on the website.
After ascending the stairs to the ballroom level at the W Hotel, we were greeted by waiters gliding about with trays of champagne. With a glass in hand, we made our way past the first assortment of casino tables and checked in where we were given two yellow poker chips to test our luck with.
The guests were still trickling in so we made our way down the hall checking on all the auctions. I happily started the bidding off on a few of the auctions (well aware I would need to check on those as the night progressed).
Blackjack & Dessert
Down the hallway, various rooms were set up with tables and treats. One contained a tower of martini glasses which was quite a presentation, but we settled into a room that smelled of sugar. After taking a seat at the blackjack table, I glanced to my left to see a table full of cookies, brownies, and chocolate covered strawberries (which I had to sample and were delicious).
I’ve been to Las Vegas before, but never actually gambled. I spent all my time at shows and enjoying the atmosphere of the extravagant hotels. Dapper husband and I were the only two at the table and between his instruction and the very kind dealer, I picked up the rules of the game and even won some of the hands. As the table became more crowded, we traded our piles of chips for a few big ones (grabbed a chocolate covered strawberry) and headed out to see what else was happening.
Strike a Pose (Photobooth)
It doesn’t seem possible to get dressed up for an event and not have at least one or two pictures taken so we waited briefly for our turn to have our photo snapped by the photographer- a flamboyant gentleman with a flashing ring on each of his fingers. Without mentioning our project h
I posed for an extra shot with the silly props
Nibbles, Presentation & Live Auction
After a stop at the bar (martini for me and an old-fashioned for the husband), we made our way to the main ballroom where everything glittered in gold. White feather centerpieces on some of the tables reminded me of mardi gras parties. Hors-d’oeuvre stations dotted the room. We stopped for a selection of cheeses and wandered to one of the few empty tables off to the side of the stage. Jaquelyn’s mother spoke of her daughter and how blessed she felt to carry on her child’s dream of raising awareness. Jaquelyn’s doctor talked about the difficulty families encounter when traveling to hospitals for treatment and how impactful the foundation’s ability to provide housing has been for some of his patients. The only shortcoming of the evening was a lack of tissues on the tables.
After the presentations, a lovely woman in a beautiful gown took over the stage and ran a live auction. Inspired by the stories we just heard, bidding was fast and exciting– up for auction included a weekend getaway in Provence, France! Lastly, a game of “heads or tails” was played for (I believe) a new iPad by anyone who purchased a flashing ring with an additional donation at sign in. It brought cheers and giggles to the dance floor as people to tried to win the prize by touching their head or their derriere.
Check Silent Auction, Outdoor Lounge
We didn’t win any of the live auctions, but the night wasn’t over yet. We made our way down the hall and checked the silent auctions– upping our bids wherever necessary. At the end of the hall, we slipped outside to the second level balcony and lounge area for a quiet moment. The weather had been wet all day and thus, the night was pleasantly cool.
We wrapped up our night of gambling at the craps table. I cannot say I’m proficient at the rules, but we made a friend who gave us some basic strategy and managed to win a few chips while we were at it!
We bowed out a before the event ended and donated our chips to the friends (and teachers) we had made at the table.
An Amazing Event
We’ve attended a few fundraisers over the years and this was by far one of the best! The event was so well organized and everyone in attendance (that we spoke to) was wonderfully pleasant. But perhaps most importantly: It wasn’t overbooked. We’ve attended so many events that sell too many tickets for their venue size and you end up crowded should-to-shoulder in 20-minute lines– this was nothing like that. It was a quality event in an elegant, fun atmosphere for a lovely cause.