Bobby D. EhlertLast Saturday evening was one of unforgettable fun, entertainment, glamor, selflessness, and most of all, unforgettable love. The ever anticipated Camp Soaring Eagle Annual Affair and Fireside Soiree brought together a wonderful group of individuals from around the valley, dressed to the nines and looking to make a difference in the lives of some remarkable children. It was an event that was equally as remarkable as it was enjoyable.

The evening began with the guests making their way to the Signature Flight Support Hangar at the back of the Scottsdale Airpark. Men, women, and children walked down the red carpet wearing wonderfully tailored suits, shining and sparking cocktail dresses, and gowns fit for a queen. After gracing the red carpet with their glamor, guest made their way to the fur table, where they were able to pick out a fur coat or scarf of their choice to wear for the evening, ensuring warmth in the chilling evening air. They then made their way to the open bar for a well prepared drink, or they went to get their picture taken by the CFLFW airplane.

The night truly kicked off at the start of the outdoor, campsite themed party games that got the guest in the spirit to donate. There were was a ring toss with full bottles of wine, bean-bag archery tosses, fishing for ducks in a pond, and a corn hole toss. Guest young and old were laughing, shouting with joy, and enjoying each other’s company. As the games and cocktails continued, guests Max Jamesbought handfuls and handfuls of tickets for the upcoming evening raffle.

Before everyone knew it, the curtains were pulled aside and a beautiful outdoor-themed dining room and stage were revealed. All 500 of the attendees flooded into the room and took their seats, ready for the main event to begin. After all seats were taken, waiters and waitress swiftly took the floor, delivering the first course of the dinner, a beautifully plated salad, and taking drink orders.  The beverages of the evening that truly deserve recognition were the arsenal of wines offered that evening, provided by Founder and Chairman of the Wine Ambassador, Lou Zant.

The Wine Ambassador is a brand new online wine club that focuses on telling the beautiful stories behind the amazing wines we find for our members each month. When you pull the cork, and share a glass, knowing the story of the wine adds new and memorable layers to the experience. As a supporter of Camp Soaring Eagle, Lou Zant – Founder & Chairman of the Wine Ambassador – is proud to promote how this organization is helping children with cancer and other terminal illnesses live every moment with hope, joy and laughter. As a company built on the concept that knowing the whole story helps us learn and connect in meaningful and fulfilling ways, the Wine Ambassador looks forward to being an enduring partner and supporter of Camp Soaring Eagle.

The Wine Ambassador’s charity of choice is Camp Soaring Eagle. When you join our club, and purchase our monthly wines, a portion of the proceeds go to support this charity. But for a very limited time, we are offering people the opportunity to become a part of the  Wine Ambassador Founders Club. This club offers people exclusive access to incredible wines and invitations to elite events we will host throughout the year. To be a member of the Founders Club, you’ll pay an annual fee of $59 to lock in your benefits for the year. Then, as a token of our appreciation, Founders Club members will receive a thank you gift that includes:

-Two Customized Stolzle Wine Glasses

(Europe’s leading designer of lead-free stemware)

– Yvonne 2010 Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

(The exclusive red wine being served at the upcoming 88th Annual Academy Awards)

– Oscar Red Carpet Raffle

(Each Founders Club member will have a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood and two tickets to attend the Oscar Red Carpet Ceremony)

We look forward to serving you as a member of the Wine Ambassador, and as a charity partner helping us support Camp Soaring Eagle!

According to Smartfem’s personal interviewer Amber Kahwaji, after her interview with Zant we learned “each wine was specially crafted for the event, and brought in from their home region of Napa Valley, California. Zant opted to remove the tannins from Terri and Leaeach wine, allowing the wine to pair effortlessly with the chicken and steak dinner. Regardless if you chose red or white to enjoy for the evening, your wine was the perfect complement to your dinner and dessert.” Being the wine supporters that we are, SmartFem was quite excited about this “universal” wine.

The dining room events began with the evening’s Emcee, Arizona Fox 10’s Kristy Siefkin, stepping out on stage with her kind smile and glittering gown. She introduced the founder of Camp Soaring Eagle, Max James, who proudly took the stage and gave the audience a little background on the creation of Camp Soaring Eagle and on all the good it has done for it’s campers and their families. When Mr. James finished his heartwarming speech, all of the adorable campers in attendance that evening made their way on stage to serenade the room with a song. It was precious and heartwarming.

Other leaders took the stage to deliver their thanks and gratitude to the audience in attendance before the main events began. Co Chairs of the event Terri Riha, and our very own Lea Haben-Woodford gave their own words of gratitude to everyone involved in making the Camp Soaring Eagle Annual Affair possible, and to the audience for attending and donating.

With their songs and thanks finished, co-Emcee and comedian, Cory McCloskey took the stage with Seifkin to read out the raffle winners. Guest all over the room were winning prizes left and right, building the room’s excitement for the auction and donations Austinto come. After the donation portion evening began, one absolutely admirable and beyond generous guest blew us all away with his selflessness. After auctioneer of the evening, Bobby D. Ehlert took that stage, he asked in a voice as smooth as butter, if anyone was willing to donate $100,000 to Camp Soaring Eagle for the year to come. Before asking again, a young boy, about the age of 4-years-old, named Austin was led up on stage by. He stood there quietly as the story of his illness was read aloud by another. The poor little boy was born with cancer of the eyes. He was treated, and almost cured when the cancer returned. His right eye was damaged to the point where the brave little boy underwent surgery to have his eye completely removed this past October. Yet, even with such a traumatic experience and a life altering surgery, the little boy stood up there and stared straight at the audience as is story was retold. He did not cry, he did not try to run off stage, but he clasped one hand in the other and stood as tall as a little 4-year-old could, and watched the audience as they learned of the love and support he received from Camp Soaring Eagle and the program they offered to little boys and girls like himself. When Austin’s story was finished, he remained on stage, standing right beside Ehlert as he raised the microphone to his lips, and asked once again if anyone was willing to donate $100,000 to the camp.

The room fell silent, as one hand calmly raised from a table at the front of the room. The room roared with applause. From then until the end of the donation process, hands shot up around the room, pledging to donate amounts ranging from $50,000 to $250. Everyone who was well and able to donate did, and the room was filled with a pride like no other.

Kristy and CoryWith the donation portion of the evening over, and the auction portion shortly approaching, the main course was delivered. Chef Eddie Matney and his team prepared a beautifully plated and scrumptious flank steak and chicken meal, accompanied by mashed potatoes and a side of steamed broccoli. Everything was cooked to perfection without a doubt. As the room ate the auction began. Bobby Ehlert took the stage again and transformed into the well know auctioneer that we was. Glittering jewelry, resort vacations, fancy services, roundtrip flights, and cruises were up for grabs. Once again, the room was buzzing with energy.

It was quite some time before the auction ended, and with its end came the closing of the evening. McCloskey jumped up on stage once again with some stand up comedy to finish out the festivities. While he joked away, the wait staff delivered the final portion of the three course meal; a caramel rice pudding topped with crystalized honey all placed inside a sweet wonton-crisp bowl with a cup of warm coffee. I’m sure everyone would agree, it was a perfect way to end the night.

All in all, the Camp Soaring Eagle Annual Affair and Fireside Soiree was an unforgettable event that not only provided spectacular entertainment, but also raised an incredible amount of funds geared towards improving the lives of remarkably brave children with illnesses. looks forward to next year’s Annual Affair, and hopes it is just as successful, heartwarming, and inspiring.