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I Have a Dream Scores Big in First Gala Fundraiser
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Sunday, August 28, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Ana and Francisco Torres got all dressed up Wednesday evening and took their places among a sea of red roses in The Argyros.

They were there for their son, who is going into the second grade, and other children.

“My son is a Dream Scholar with I Have a Dream and he loves it,” said Ana Torres. “Last year they took him on field trips--hiking, to the farm in Bellevue, ice skating--so he stayed busy. And I love the all-around support he gets for his education—the encouragement they give him as a student is amazing. He loves it so much that it keeps him learning more and he gets upset when he misses it.”

Torres wasn’t the only one showing support for the organization, which offers educational and emotional support to disadvantaged students in the Blaine County School District, in addition to teaching leadership skills and helping 75 high school students earn the credits they need to graduate.

Others in the sell-out crowd of 210 were quick to show support at the organization’s inaugural gala fundraiser over a dinner of beef tenderloin, crab cakes and more.

The theme, appropriately enough was Dream Big and executive director Laura Rose-Lewis was beaming as the pledges and bids exceeded more than $610,000.

In fact, she was so excited she fired off an email to Eye on Sun Valley just before midnight, praising  supporters for dreaming big—beyond her most optimistic dreams.

“I was moved and excited beyond words,” she said. “Our committee invited many guests who were new to I Have a Dream—some who are new to the community. I think the combination of curiosity about our work, a new understanding about our work, and our students, combined with an incredible spirit of generosity in the room, made it a special and tremendously successful evening.”

Every one of the 46 students who took part in the initial I Have a Dream Foundation program beginning when they were in fourth grade, graduated from Wood River High School this summer with the promise of scholarship money to take their education beyond high school.

That made longtime supporter Joyce Hart, who taught for 45 years in Germany and the United States, happy.

“Education is the way to success always. I don’t care what language you speak,” she said. “One of the Dream Scholars was real negative about education in the seventh grade and I told him, ‘You are going to going to like it and you are going to do it. He gave me a hug at graduation and thanked me for supporting him all that time.”

Quin Curran echoed her sentiments: “Everyone deserves a chance to get through grade school and high school. Once you have a high svhool diploma, it opens the doors.”

Rose-Lewis said that the program takes a whole child approach intent on giving each child socio-emotional skills as well as academic success.

“We serve a hundred students in our programs and with your help we can expand our outreach,” she told the audience. Rose-Lewis added that it costs about $4,500 per student for those in the core program; I Have a Dream serves other students with less expensive programs.

“Together we are opening doors and changing lives,” she said.

Alpine skier Danielle Carruth, two-time Birkie winner and former U.S. Nordic Ski Team member Muffy Ritz and seven-time world mountain bike champion Rebecca Rusch teamed up on packages that included a season ski pass from Sun Valley Company, a Nordic season trail pass and a Pedego mountain E-bike for auction lots that went has high as $7,200.

A party for 12 at the home of Lisa and Perry Boyle, complete with food catered by Kellee Havens and wines from the Boyle’s private Argentine vineyard, went for $12,000. A party featuring gift certificates from Safffon Indian Cuisine and other restaurants as well as tickets, picnic and wine for two at all of the Sun Valley Museum of Arts 2023 summer concerts went for $10,000.

The Paddles Up kicked off with a pledge for $100,000 followed by a few $25,000 pledges.

Hailey Elementary School Principal Staphanie Wallace recounted asking one student why he was down in the dumps.

“He said, ‘I really miss the Dream Scholars,’ That’s a huge testament to the power of this program,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power and that power is something that can never be taken away from these students.”

Eduardo Escalera, a Dream Scholar graduate who works at Dang’s while he prepares to study at the Sun Valley Culinary Institute, was an organizer of the Community Table, an effort to bring community together. He also has received praise from those at Boulder Mountain Clayworks for his hard work as an intern keeping the studio clean and performing other tasks.

“I Have a Dream gave me a lot of love and academic support,” he told the audience. “I’m grateful for all the support I received from I Have a Dream Foundation, and I’m now trying to give back to the community.”

Want to know more? Visit www.ihdfidaho.org or call 208-204-4199.

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