By John Maxwell
This year, we changed the name of the Police Officers’ Ball to the Police Officers’ Charity Gala. We are also proud to announce several accolades that came from this great event! First, this was the most successful gala fundraiser to date, generating over $65,000 in revenue! Second, the event was sold out one month in advance, which was the first time this had ever occurred. We offered discounted ticket pricing for PLEA members on both individual ticket sales and full tables of 10. I cannot thank everyone enough for their support of PLEA Charities and our mission to assist public safety personnel — and to assist in giving back to our community.
On October 7, 300 guests attended the “all-black attire” event at a new venue, Events on Jackson. The staff at Events on Jackson were very welcoming and gave us the opportunity to utilize most of their facility without saying no.
One of the challenges we expected in preparation for this year’s gala was parking since it is located in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Luckily, everything fell into place just beforehand, and the parking lot was open for us to use, with no sports games being played at home. The planning for this event took place nearly a year ago, and it is not an easy task. The committee had to ask for in-kind donations to be used for the auction and secure necessary sponsors.
We added some new things to the normal program schedule, which included “cocktail hour and a half,” which allowed guests to mingle while grabbing a drink with the two provided drink tickets, eat hors d’oeuvres and most importantly, take photos to commemorate the night.
Silent auction bidding was done on paper bid sheets this year during cocktail hour, as well as mystery box purchases. The bourbon and bubbly wall also received a facelift with a custom-made static display. PLEA Charities had secured a special event liquor license, and all the bar service needs were donated by local distributors and vendors. The bars were fully stocked by the awesome people at Breakthru Beverage Group. Four Peaks Brewing Company graciously donated kegs of beer to be served to our guests. We wanted to improve the after-dinner live entertainment, which was the Crown Kings Band. They were so thankful to play for a police charity and wanted to show their appreciation to the men and women in blue. I received many compliments from attendees who really enjoyed the band because they took requests for songs while dancing and playing at the casino gaming tables.
The Phoenix Police Museum police car was onsite in the parking lot for guest photographs. Erik Larson donated his time to take professional pictures, which are free to all guests. Each guest also received a special gift of either a tie clip or stackable bracelet at registration with an engraved Police Officers’ Charity Gala logo. These gifts can be worn at future gala events.
Just after checking in at registration, guests were greeted by a fully built custom step-and-repeat wall for selfies and professional photographs. Our master of ceremonies was Mike Broomhead, who did an amazing job, as usual, captivating the audience and keeping them entertained. Gilded Gatherings, a professional catering company, was a new vendor that provided elegant appetizers, a full dinner meal and beautiful desserts. The return of Tommy Thompson as our incredible auctioneer helped raise money during the live auction, which had multiple firearms and an exclusive trip to Hendrick Motorsports Complex. There were some fun bidding wars that happened during the live auction, with one of them ending with a significant bid increase to secure the win.
Once again, guests were able to cash in every $100 of casino gaming chips for tickets to put into a raffle for two different prizes. I announced those winners during a livestream on the PLEA Charities Facebook page. The prizes were a custom wood blue line flag and a family portrait session in California, including a one-night hotel stay.
Every year, we strive to improve the experience of the guests who come to support PLEA Charities, and we are already planning for next year!
I must give a special thank-you to the Gala Committee members who volunteered their time, money and effort to make this event so beautiful and memorable:
- Claudia Abril
- Hillary Hancock
- Ashley Kidd
- Kalie Lindmark
- John Maxwell
- Haili McCance
- Dani Pomeroy
- Amber Ruiz
- Haley Schuster
- Whitney Stevenson
All proceeds from the Police Officers’ Charity Gala support PLEA Charities’ mission of helping police and caring for the community through programs including the Back to School Drive, the Phoenix Police Cadet Scholarship and Shop With a Cop.