Spread the Word Nevada hosts annual gala

About 400 guests attended Spread the Word Nevada’s 14th annual Storybook Gala on Sept. 12 at the MGM Grand Conference Center.

The nonprofit organization is dedicated to advancing early childhood literacy through programs within Southern Nevada’s at-risk communities. Since 2001, Spread the Word Nevada has provided 3.2 million books to more than 401,000 children. The group places more than 37,000 books into the hands of low-income children each month.

This year’s theme featured the popular children’s book character Curious George, played by Georgina Martinez. Ted, popularly known as The Man in the Yellow Hat, was portrayed by master of ceremonies and auctioneer Christian Kolberg, with makeup by Karen Sidell.

The reception offered 45 items for bid. Dignitaries attending were former Nevada first lady Sandy Miller and daughter Megan; Clark County School Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky; state Sens. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, Patricia Farley, R-Las Vegas, Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, Becky Harris, R-Las Vegas, and former Assemblywoman April Mastroluca.

Opening remarks were given by Jean La Placa, Spread the Word Nevada’s chairwoman of the board. Other speakers were Lisa Habighorst, executive director and co-founder, and Laurie Hartig co-founder of the group. They spoke of six new schools added to the program this year, bringing the total to 28 schools.

The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Tim Stanfield.

The excellent three-course dinner was followed by a live auction for 10 packages, including a painting completed during the gala by artist Jennifer Main that raised $7,500 and a New York package for two that included tickets to “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” that brought in $5,000.

Some of the other auction items were a gourmet dinner for 10 in the high bidder’s home by chef Jane Labadie, winner of the Food Network’s “Extreme Chef” competition, for $8,000; a private suite for 12 at the Staples Center to see the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers or Los Angeles Kings, including six rooms at the Pacific Palms Conference Resort, for $5,500; a Sail Windjammer Tall Ship vacation for two on the Caribbean in Grenada West Indies, for $5,000; and a week’s stay in Cabo San Lucas, for $4,000.

An additional Legacy of Literacy event raised $67,000. Guests could also purchase library cards or books that might offer a fun surprise inside the cover.

Among the guests were Irene and Duncan Lee, Eileen and Eric Horn, Judy Reich and Gary Milby, Laurie and Jon Hartig, Laura and Scott Hensley, Susan J. Miller, Kimberly Stein and Michael Leslie, Tom Axtell, Korie Farrell, Leslie Maple, Gladys Comer, Cindy Bezard, Debbie Sandusky, Pam Lang and Vicki Soares, director of public relations and marketing for Spread the Word Nevada.

Music by Bella Strings concluded the evening.

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