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Inspiring evening raises $50,000 for Reach

Inaugural Reach for the Stars gala in Ladner showcases society's successes and helps build for the future

The community gathered amongst glitter and stars on Feb. 23 to help raise funds for a new centre in Ladner for children and youth with special needs.

Reach Child and Youth Development Society and Charitable Foundation débuted its Reach for the Stars: An Evening of Inspiration fundraising event benefiting the Building for Children Together campaign. The inaugural event exceeded its goal by raising approximately $50,000 towards the new centre.

Over 250 guests filled the star-cloaked Sacred Heart School gym and were treated to a night of fun, fundraising and inspiration. Chris Gailus, News Hour anchor on Global BC, emceed the event and helped Ian Paton with the live auction.

Distinguished guests included Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson as well as civic councillors, members of the Delta school district, Ministry For Children and Family Development, families and members from the Delta service club and business community.

Reach executive director Renie D'Aquila welcomed guests and thanked the over 70 volunteers and host of sponsors that made the event possible.

"As I look around the room," D'Aquila said, "it warms my heart to see so many people here from all walks of life joining together tonight to help vulnerable children."

Guests mingled at the cocktail reception over the lively tunes of local jazz ensemble Half A Metric Ton, and browsed over 80 auction items donated by businesses and individuals from all over Delta, Surrey and Langley.

Highlights of the evening included inspiring stories from two families with children who have special needs. A third speaker, Myles McKie, received a standing ovation for his talk about living with autism and how Reach and others have helped him achieve his goals.

After the speeches the crowd was treated to a five-song set by young musicians Marshall Forsythe and Josh Somers. Forsythe and Somers both have special needs and have been through a variety of Reach programs.

Forsythe told the crowd, "Reach is not just a place, it's a family. We love you all so very much."

Reach Child and Youth Development Society has been helping children with special needs for over 50 years and today serves close to 1,000 children.

Reach has formed a foundation, which, along with the Kinsmen Club of Ladner Tsawwassen, is raising $4 million to build a community-based child development centre in central Ladner. The new centre will be built on land donated by Delta and will include therapy rooms, a large community events room with a teaching kitchen, and an inclusive preschool with an accessible outdoor playground that will be open for all of the community to enjoy.

The central location will be much easier for families to access, and the building will be 60 per cent larger than Reach's current facility helping to provide more programs for children and youth who are waiting for services.

"We are on our way to reaching our goal of raising $4 million and I would like to thank everyone who attended Reach for the Stars," said Reach Foundation chair Barbara Wallick.

Events sponsors included Westshore Terminals, Canadian Autoparts Toyota (CAPTIN), Delta Cable, Robertson Optical, Fraser Surrey Docks, TSI, Fraser River Pile & Dredge, Century Group, MK Delta Lands, Coast Capital, Grosvenor, Envision, Safeway, VanCity, John's Thistle Auto, Delco Delta Container, Odlum Brown, Delta Speed Pro Signs, and media sponsors the Delta Optimist and South Delta Leader.

Reach is planning on making the Reach for the Stars an annual event.

For more information about Reach Child and Youth Development Society and the Building for Children Together project, visit www.reachdevelopment.org or call 604-9466622 ext. 301.

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