Oscar glitz, glamour and excitement strikes again in Phoenix for the 19th time on February 24 at the Camelback Inn, when Arthritis Foundation Arizona holds its annual gala fundraiser, “Oscar Experience.” “It starts at the red carpet, of course,” says Executive Director Valerie Jones. The red carpet — lined with camera-flashing paparazzi — leads to the ballroom where those already inside can watch the newcomers arrive on closed circuit TV as well as the live broadcast from Hollywood on large screens around the room. Live statues of the coveted award (models painted gold), a glamour lounge where Rolfs beauty technicians will touch up guests’ make-up, and, new this year, a true gifting lounge fill out the experience. Top it off with an authentic Oscar program (this is the only sanctioned Oscar event in Phoenix, and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences provides Arthritis Foundation Arizona with the same program it gives attendees at the grand Hollywood event) and plenty of opportunity to capture the event for posterity in photos.
Attracting a lively crowd of 400 to 500 people, the evening will generate $300,000 to $400,000 for Arthritis Foundation Arizona — a significant percentage of the organization’s $1-million annual operating budget. “The money stays here to support [our programs] for the 1.2 million people with arthritis in Arizona,” Jones notes.
- In Arizona, 1.2 million people, including 6,000 children, suffer from various forms of arthritis. “Children can get any kind that adults get,” notes Jones.
- Arthritis Foundation Arizona is one of few health charities that offer programs in community locations throughout the Valley. Programs include aquatic, Tai Chi, a residence camp for children with arthritis and weekend camp for families.
- Educational programs are presented by licensed physicians, giving attendees access to a physician of whom they can ask questions to help figure out where to go next to get the help they need.
- Five paid staff, most of whom are involved in program rather than fundraising, are augmented by hundreds of volunteers whose contributions range from instructors to office personnel to representatives manning information booths at community events to board members.
- The organization’s other signature event is the Arthritis Walk in May (Arthritis Month).
- In addition to the fundraising events, the organization’s $1-million operating budget is funded through public support, corporate employee giving, foundations and grants.