nce upon a time, on a starry night in New York City, nearly 400 people gathered under the Manhattan lights to celebrate a special occasion: Pajama Program’s Annual Benefit Gala. On May 4th at Capitale, the scene was set for a magical evening to honor how far we have come over the past 16 years.
Guests joined us for an enchanted storybook experience, moving from cocktail hour and silent auction to the dinner, live auction and special presentations. Our auctioneer extraordinaire, Carla Hall, co-host of ABC’s Emmy award-winning series, The Chew, kept the energy high with her humor. Our exciting auction and raffle items this year included memorable experiences, such as tickets to the MTV VMAs in Los Angeles (including hotel and airfare), prime seats to see Lady Gaga perform, a stay at Canyon Ranch, golf excursions, premier tickets to sporting events including the US Open, Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Knicks and Nets, a chance to attend American Ninja Warrior live in Las Vegas, tickets to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers, and the ultimate NASCAR adventure. As a surprise, Hall even added an incredible auction item of her own—a private meal prepared by her for one lucky winner and 10 friends at her restaurant, Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen.
During our special presentations, the audience listened to the story of a young child who lived in a group home and grew up in foster care, only his voice could be heard. That boy, now a grown man—Greg Johnson, stepped onstage to share his message, that a caring adult made a positive difference in his life, and he expressed his support for Pajama Program’s mission. Our Founder, Genevieve Piturro, then presented the Good Nights are Good Days Champion Award to David Rush, President of Environetics. Rush, a longtime advocate for our work, donated office space to Pajama Program for its first home. He has also provided generous financial support to Pajama Program and introduced numerous individuals to our cause, many of whom were in attendance at the Gala.
This year’s Gala was our most successful yet. Far more than a fundraising event, this elegant celebration allowed everyone to experience how Pajama Program is evolving as an organization that advocates for every child’s right to a good night, increasing its impact for the children we serve. For the first time, we showcased our new positioning, Good Nights are Good Days, with thanks to our agency, The Moderns.
Our event sponsors, including our Signature Gala Sponsor and Lead Book Partner, Scholastic Reading Club, our Lead Pajama Partner, Carter’s, Inc., and over 30 additional corporate and individual sponsors, evidenced their commitment to increasing our impact nationwide and upholding our Good Night Bill of Rights. We are grateful to all those who attended, joining us in our work to support closing every child’s 24-hour Good Day Loop, protecting their right to a good night for a hopeful, good day.