LA’s BEST Family Dinner raises $670,000, Benefiting More Than 25,000 Children

There is nothing sweeter than being surrounded by your family for a night filled with celebration, joy, and happiness.

That is exactly how the LA’s BEST family felt on Saturday, June 27, 2015 when honoring Candy Spelling, Albertsons & The Vons Foundation, William S. White & the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). The event featured a silent and live auction, as well as a Lexus Hybrid Car Raffle, and ultimately raised $670,000 for LA’s BEST After School Program and over 25,000 children served across Los Angeles. The event marked the first fundraising dinner under the leadership of new President & CEO Eric Gurna.

The after school program hosted its Family Dinner fundraising event on Saturday, June 27 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Friends, guests and honorees came together to celebrate the work of LA’s BEST and those who support the program.

For her years of support, LA’s BEST honored philanthropist Candy Spelling with the Children’s Champion Award. Her children, Tori and Randy, made the special presentation to their Mom. Also joining Candy for the evening were Tori’s husband Dean McDermott and two of their children, Liam and Stella.

During the presentation Tori and Randy spoke about their Mom, saying:

“Everything our mother has become, all that she has built, and all that she has done for the children of Los Angeles is because she always had a heart for the shy child,” Randy said. “The ones in the corner, behind the crowd, quiet and alone. She notices the one who needs someone to offer a hand.”

Sister Tori added, “Mom, I respect you. I am proud of you. I love you. And now that I am a mother of four, I see myself turning into you. And that makes me happy.”

As she received her award, Spelling was visibly moved: “A question often asked of successful people is: ‘How did you know the path you chose was the right thing to do?’ In response, champions, scholars, artists and entrepreneurs have shared: I had a teacher that believed in me … or a coach that spent hours working with me … a class or a project that spoke to me. All in all, something or someone that made me believe in me. After school programs play an enormous role in helping young students find their way and achieve their goals. Without LA’s BEST, we could be depriving our community and the world of a future Nobel Prize winner, a research scientist that could cure cancer, or a diplomat that could bring peace where there’s unrest.”

Nigel Lythgoe and So You Think You Can Dance were honored with the Live Your Dream Award. He spoke passionately about the importance of validating the value of children whose talents can’t be measured by test scores. Joining him in support were SYTYCD All- Stars, including Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Allison Holker, Casey Askew, Jessica Richens, Joshua Allen, and Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer.

Presenting the award to Nigel and the television series was Miss Prissy—also known as the Queen of Krump—who is an LA’s BEST parent and former LA’s BEST staff member.

She even volunteered for LA’s BEST while pregnant with her second child, born just a month ago. Miss Prissy performed a dance of gratitude on behalf of all the children across the city and around the world who have been inspired by the show to dance toward their dreams.

Spencer, Askew, and Richens also performed during the event to demonstrate the power of dance and how important it is to keep the arts in a child’s life.

Other honorees included The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Albertsons & The Vons Foundation.

Mott has shown years of support for not only LA’s BEST, but for after school programs across the nation.

Albertsons & The Vons Foundation has supported multiple native garden installations at LA’s BEST schools, while also being an active participant in the program’s annual Family Health Festival, which promotes a healthy and active lifestyle.

LA's BEST also honored 20 winning students from the Annual Creative Writing & Art Contest. The students and their family joined supporters at the Family Dinner and showcased their art in the Guern Pavillion Foyer before the program began.

To close the evening, our President & CEO invited two student contest winner to help him pull a raffle ticket for the Toyota Car Raffle! The winner--who has chosen to be anonymous--was announced and became the owner of a brand new Lexus Hybrid!

Thank you to our honorees, supporters, performers, and everyone who helped raise over $670,000 for LA's BEST!