enCourage Kids Star-Filled Virtual Gala
Brings Joyful Bliss to Those in Need
Michele Hall Duncan, President & CEO enCourage Kids Foundation
On December 2, 2020, the enCourage Kids Foundation hosted their annual Serving Up Smiles event to help raise over $100,000 to support their incredible mission of humanizing healthcare for children and their families by resourcing impact-driven pediatric programs.
Things looked different this year in the midst of the pandemic, but nothing could stop blissful joy from being spread. Hundreds of guests joined virtually from all across America as the gala’s production team hosted a small soiree in conjunction with the presentation at legendary Manhattan restaurant Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse. The night, which was presented by Revel Spirits, hosted less than 20 invited guests who masked up and socially-spread out in the spacious location as cameras filmed the fundraiser.
Michele Hall Duncan, President & CEO enCourage Kids Foundation and ABC Sports Anchor Ryan Field
ABC Sports Anchor Ryan Field emceed the evening along with host Justin Hartley of the hit television show “This Is Us.” Over the web the actor tuned in from Los Angeles and was joined by Culinary Chair Ralph Scamardella, Chef & Partner at TAO Group; Chef John Cleveland, Executive Chef & Owner Post & Beam LA; and Chef Jessica Scott, Corporate Pastry Chef 50 Eggs Hospitality Group.
Coming out in person to support the cause amongst other VIP guests were NFL Legends Tony Richardson, Howard Cross and Luke Petitguot.
Tony Richardson, Howard Cross, and ABC Sports Anchor Ryan Field
“Moments like this make me optimistic,” reflected Michele Hall Duncan, President & CEO enCourage Kids Foundation. “It has been a rough couple of months for us. We have lost a lot of revenue. There have been so many hospitals that are pleading for our help, and we cannot help them. In a time like this, we do look for those who always show up for us. It makes me hopeful that we are going to get past this. We are going to get back to a better normal.”
Richardson, the former Jets football player added, “For me it was just one call that I got and I had to say yes to be here…when you see all the hard work that goes into raising funds for these kids it is worth it. At the end of the day, we have to support wonderful organizations like enCourage Kids. They are near and dear to my heart no matter what is going on in the world right now.”
As taping commenced across states, the web brought to life performances by musical guest Acute Inflections, Matias Letelier a hypnotic Illusionist, and artist Katrina “Kat Tat” Jackson. Guests online were able to hop around the session rooms to enjoy the live music, cooking demos from world-class chefs in their home kitchens, and mixology demos.
The enCourage Kids foundation additionally honored Cory Elbaum and Rob Turner with the Jeffrey Gural Leadership Award. Dr. Kusum Viswanathan of Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center received the Healthcare Leadership Award.
Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse
Sponsors for the night included GFP Real Estate, Signature Bank and Feil Family Foundation. After the live show, a handful of guests dined on exquisite entrees presented by Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse at socially-distanced tables in the restaurant. The banquet was a success, and the night accomplished a fantastic affair that was all in the name of an important cause to help precious children and their families.
enCourage Kids Foundation Staff and ABC Sports Anchor Ryan Field
Since 1985, enCourage Kids Foundation has served more than one million children annually. Programs offer relief from the constant burden of treatment, hospital stays, and doctor appointments, while also helping pediatric facilities to meet the unique needs of their patients. enCourage Kids Foundation envisions a world where every child–regardless of the difficulty of his or her medical journey—experiences joy, hope, resilience, and healing.
Howard Cross Virtual Presentation
Photos By – Mychal Watts