More than $500,000 was raised for the Special Needs Network (SNN) during a fundraising drive, which culminated with the 14th annual Pink Pump Affair on May 15, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
According to Areva Martin, SNN founder and president who is also a media personality, civil rights attorney and child advocate, that the funds were raised through foundation grants, VIP charity ticket sales and 30 corporate/nonprofit sponsors. Also, L.A. Care Health, a gold plus sponsor of the Pink Pump Affair, presented a $25,000 check to SNN during the charity event.
Other sponsors included California Wellness, Microsoft, Walmart, the Los Angeles Lakers, SEIU 99 and US Bank. CBS2/KCAL9, also a sponsor, was the exclusive media partner, and CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey served as the emcee.
“I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love for the 14th annual Pink Pump Affair. More than 350 powerful women came together to collectively say that kids with autism and special needs matter,” said Martin.
“The generous donations will allow the Special Needs Network to continue the transformative work of fighting and advocating for Black and Brown kids with autism and other special needs, and ensure that they are valued and given every opportunity to thrive in our society.”
Hundreds of fashionistas dressed in “power pink” gathered at the Pink Pump Affair for a fun-filled afternoon, which included a champagne reception, a silent and live auction hosted by comedian/actress and SNN board member Kym Whitley, and an awards show honoring women of distinction.
Plus, a fashion show, featuring Gen Z emerging designer Journey Carter along with size-inclusive clothing brands from African American designers, presented by MaTte ArGyLe, wowed the audience with size-inclusive women of color on the catwalk. MaTte ArGyLe is Black-owned boutique at Runway Playa Vista.
‘Other famous faces in the crowd included comedienne/actress Luenell as well as actresses Anna Maria Horsford, Vivica A. Fox and Elise Neal.
“It was such an emotional day to see so many women attend the Pink Pump Affair, supporting the very important work of the Special Needs Network,” said Bonnie Berry Lamon, the Pink Pump Affair event chairperson and SNN vice president and board member.
“With summer just around the corner, some of the money raised will fund Camp JPAC, a free summer inclusive camp for special needs children and their siblings.”
This year’s Pink Pump honorees included Wendy Raquel Robinson, an Emmy-winning producer, NAACP Image Award-winning actress and philanthropist. She received the Vanguard Award for her work as the co-founder and artistic director of Amazing Grace Conservatory, a theatrical training institute for youth in the Los Angeles community for more than 25 years.
Kellie Hawkins Davis, the first Black, female equity partner with Englander, Knabe and Allen (EKA), accepted the Trailblazer Award for her groundbreaking work in the public and private sectors.
The Everyday Advocate Award for demonstrating resiliency in the face of obstacles was presented to Audreona McRoy, an 18-year-old with special needs who defied the odds by graduating high school and gaining admissions to college.
In a rousing speech during the charity event, Martin revealed that SNN will open L.A.’s first-ever comprehensive medical and developmental center — the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (C.A.A.D) — in the late fall of 2022. The state-of-the-art autism center on the campus of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital will serve thousands of families in the Watts/Willowbrook neighborhoods and surrounding areas each month.
Martin also revealed SNN’s new initiative, called the Special Needs Network Think Institute for Research and Economic Advancement. The Think Institute will be the region’s first think tank and research institute, located in South Los Angeles, focused solely on dismantling systemic racism in health and autism care.
Through collaborative partnerships with local colleges, national thought leaders and clinicians, the Think Institute will create anti-racist and inclusive service delivery models for individuals of color with autism and other special needs as well as address issues of homelessness, employment and entrepreneurship for BIPOC individuals with special needs.
For more information about SSN, visit SNNLA.org,