On Sunday, May 19 over 450 powerful women and a few good men came together for the 11th annual Special Needs Network Pink Pump Gala tea and fashion show. This year’s Women of Distinction honorees, actress Vanessa Bell-Calloway, autism self advocate Spencer Harte and TV Personality Robin McGraw, dazzled the audience with heart-filled acceptance speeches. Attendees dressed in pink to symbolize the power of women philanthropy and to acknowledge the boldness of their collective efforts of supporting children and families. A “Destination Vacation” fashion show was presented by Galina Sobolev and her designer brand, Single LA.
This celebration of women is held annually to raise money for Special Needs Network‘s famed camp Joe Patton Academy Camp (JPAC). Camp JPAC is the only autism inclusion camp in Los Angeles County and it’s home to 300 kids with special needs and their siblings. A full-day camp which offers sports, music, dance, computer technology and academics, the camp also employs over 100 high school and college students as camp counselors. “This year’s event was simply incredible. I was overwhelmed by the tremendous support for the work that Special Needs Network does and Camp JPAC. With more than 1 in 59 children being diagnosed with autism, the need for the services that Special Needs Network provides has been increasing each year,” says Areva Martin, Special Needs Network founder/President, award-winning civil rights attorney, CNN commentator and Cohost of Face the Truth.
The event was emceed by CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey. Celebrity and special guests included Kym Whitley who served as the auctioneer, Vivica Fox, Lela Rochon, Tina Knowles Lawson, Anna Marie Horsford, Holly Robinson Peete, Cookie Johnson, Dr. Nita Landry, Dr. Judy Ho, Sherry Shepard, Essence Atkins and Elise Neal. The event was sponsored by Cal Wellness, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. Care Health Plan, UPS, Real Men Cook Foundation, NBC/Universal, US Bank, SEIU 99 and SEIU 721.