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Childhelp’s 17th Annual Drive the Dream Gala Honors Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson as “Woman of the World” and Foster Friess as “Man of the World”
By Cindy Dempski - Thursday May 13, 2021
Childhelp, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children, will celebrate the 17th Annual Childhelp Drive the Dream Gala on Saturday, May 15, 2021, at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. Celebrities, entertainers and supporters will be on-hand for a sparkling celebration in support of Childhelp’s programs and services over more than 62 years and 11 million children served. This year’s event will honor “The VibrantDoc” Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, global philanthropist and bestselling author of VIBRANT with the “Woman of the World” award, and philanthropist and prominent investor Foster Friess with the first-ever “Man of the World” award.

Proceeds from the event directly support the lifesaving services provided to abused and neglected children in Arizona through the Childhelp Children’s Advocacy Center of Arizona Dedicated to Linda Pope (CCCAZ). Ivy Ciolli and Tracy Katz, this year’s chair and co-chair, chose this year’s theme – “Don’t Let Their Dreams Be Just Dreams” – as a way to honor childlike wonder while calling attention to the pressing issue of child abuse and neglect.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for so many, but particularly this country’s most vulnerable, children that suffer abuse and neglect, said Childhelp Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Sara O’Meara. “This issue is more pressing than ever, as we’ve seen an increase in volume to our Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline since the pandemic began, with spikes of 46% compared to the prior year. We are honored to have powerhouse women like Ivy Ciolli and Tracy Katz representing Childhelp as we come together to help children in our state recover from this pandemic and find hope and healing.”

Childhelp Co-Founder, Vice-Chairman and President Yvonne Fedderson added, “So many abused and neglected children have been stripped of their ability to dream and aspire for a brighter future. At Childhelp, we work to restore those dreams and help children realize that they can be anything they want to be. We are so grateful for the volunteers and supporters who bring the Childhelp Drive the Dream Gala to life so we can continue our mission, including three outstanding awardees we will be honoring throughout the night.”

Actress Melissa Peterman from the hit TV shows “Baby Daddy,” “Young Sheldon” and “Reba” will emcee this year’s event for the fourth time. Additional noted attendees include devoted "Dancing with the Stars" couple Maks Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd, actor Dolph Lundgren, actress Jen Lilley, wrestler and artist Mickie James, artist and professional tennis star Kialani Mills, and Childhelp Youth Ambassador Rosevelt Rawls, who will perform a special song alongside the night’s big names in entertainment.

This year, Childhelp will bestow the honor of the Childhelp Woman of the World Award to bestselling author and philanthropist, The VibrantDoc, Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson. With this award, Dr. Stephenson finds herself among notable previous award winners including Oprah Winfrey, Kathie Lee Gifford, Betty White, First Ladies Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush, and most recently, Melani Walton. From chairing Childhelp’s biggest events to sharing her compassionate spirit and dedication for our programs and services, Dr. Stephenson epitomizes the essence of this award by sharing her talent on the big stage and her heart with the children in our care. Her latest endeavor, VibrantDoc, takes this a step further by instilling knowledge, confidence, and inspiration in others.

Childhelp will also honor Foster Friess with its first ever Childhelp Man of the World Award. Mr. Friess has provided relief and assistance for numerous causes across the world, including extensive support for the children of Childhelp. His philanthropic work has been honored with several awards, including the Horatio Alger Award, the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award, Canterbury Medal, Adam Smith Award and more. Forbes named Mr. Friess along with John Templeton and Warren Buffett among the Ten Most Outstanding money managers of this generation. His many accolades and lifetime achievements celebrate a great life, and he will set a high bar for future awardees.

The Chandler-based RV dealer SportTruckRV will receive the Childhelp Nellie Jackson Award.

“It is estimated that 5 children die every day from child abuse and neglect, continued O’Meara. “Since its opening in 1998, the CCCAZ has served more than 140,000 children in the Valley and continues to serve as a model for programs nationwide. The Childhelp Drive the Dream Gala is just one way the community can help support the intervention, treatment and prevention of child abuse in Arizona.”

Premier Sponsors of the event include Mr. Richard J. Stephenson and Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, VibrantDoc, NFP The Hebets Company, and Ira Gaines and Cheryl Hintzen-Gaines. Platinum sponsors include the Hammered Heart Foundation, The Florkiewicz Family Foundation and The Rob and Melani Walton Foundation. Tickets and sponsorship information are available at childhelpdrivethedream.org or by contacting Eileen Morang at [email protected].

About Childhelp: Founded by Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson in 1959, Childhelp® has brought the light of hope and healing into the lives of more than 11 million children as a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping abused, neglected and at-risk children. Childhelp’s programs and services include residential treatment services, children’s advocacy centers, therapeutic foster care, group homes and child abuse prevention, education and training. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline serves children and adults nationwide 24/7 through phone, text and online chat. For more information, visit http://www.childhelp.org and follow Childhelp at http://www.facebook.com/childhelp, Instagram.com/childhelp and twitter.com/childhelp.