Las Vegas Academy, Make-A-Wish fundraisers support programs

Make-A-Wish of Southern Nevada grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. This nonprofit organization had its popular luncheon recently at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant at the Forum Shops at Caesars.

Make-A-Wish President and CEO Caroline Ciocca welcomed supporters. Seen among the sold-out crowd were Nancy Houssels, Debbie Creel, Susan Graves, Josie Snow, Debra Stout, Madeleine Andress, Jane Schorr, Sandy Tueller, Kim Chilton, Camille Ruvo, Denise Cushman, Wendy Plaster and Michael Schulman.

The reception gave guests time to buy opportunity tickets to win something wonderful from the prize list of 50 packages.

Once everyone was seated for lunch, committee Chairwoman Linda Richardson introduced her daughter Melissa Richardson-Akkaway and committee members Kristine Creel, Stacy Falcone, Kimberly Gora, Victoria Otter, Corie Sawdon, Barbara Stout, Debbie Swissman, Noey Richardson and Helene Walker.

Melissa Warren spoke about the networking that takes place to grant a child’s dream wish, which costs $850.

Raymond Wilmer, representing Bank of America/U.S. Trust, attended, and was thanked for granting the wishes for two children. Robin Leach conducted the “raise your star” at various money levels for granting wishes.

Fendi in the Shops of Crystals, a Make-A-Wish supporter, presented the luncheon’s fashion show featuring Fendi’s fall collection. Ingrid Cervantes represented Fendi.

More guests attending were Jacki Katz, Robyne Townsend, Tina Kunzer-Murphy, Diane Bigelow, Heidi Sarno Straus, Susan Sunderland, Judy Stone and Anne Robins.

■ Big top: Las Vegas Academy had its second annual fundraising gala at the Rio recently. Festivities began with a silent auction and a circus sideshow that was followed by dinner, a live auction and entertainment by academy students and stars from the Strip.

Master artist Graham Knuttel of Ireland was the academy’s 2014 gala honoree. Knuttel worked in collaboration with 13 handpicked students on “Fremont Street,” a landscape of character and architecture painted in bold strokes and vivid colors. A numbered and signed artist’s proof was auctioned off along with eight big auction packages by auctioneer Christian Kolberg.

Entertainer Jeff Civillico served as the big top’s ringmaster.

The Clark High School Honor Guard opened the program and the Las Vegas Academy Choir sang the national anthem. Las Vegas Academy’s String Quartet provided the dinner music. Entertainment continued featuring opera soprano Suzanne Vinnik singing with the Las Vegas Academy Philharmonic.

More stars performing were Mark Shunnock from “Rock of Ages,” Santana drummer Pepe Jimenez, Grammy winner and Las Vegas Academy alumnus bassist Abe Gumroyan, keyboardist and lead singer of Moksha and Las Vegas Academy alumnus Brian Triola, rock guitarist Pat Thrall, comedian and juggler Jeff Civillico, the Las Vegas Academy Dancers, Elvis tribute artist Brendan Paul, Travis Cloer of “Jersey Boys,” magician Mac King, “So You Think You Can Dance” and Las Vegas Academy alumnus Aaron Turner, and Katie Murdock from “Legends In Concert.” Jack Gaughan conducted the show.

The Las Vegas Academy is a nationally recognized, award-winning magnet high school dedicated to education in performing and visual arts, serving approximately 1,700 students.

Seen enjoying the event were Las Vegas Academy Principal Scott Walker and wife Virginia; former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., and Bonnie Bryan; Sue and Paul Lowden; Don Ross; Darlene Williams; Jeri and Rick Crawford; Mary McCarthy and Cam Ferenbach; Patricia Fink; Nancy and Charles Vinnik; Kathy Dyke; Vanessa and Josh Houssels; Karlene McCurry; Susan and Steven Philpott; Flora Mason; Maureen and Al Slivinski; Ruth Knuttel; Geri and Amy Smith; and Miranda Cohen.

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