Historic Gala Smashes Fundraising Record

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Oaks Christian School celebrated “All Night Long” as the community welcomed Grammy winning artist and Hall of Famer Lionel Richie and celebrity television host Jay Leno to headline and emcee, respectively, the annual Dinner Auction Gala, which smashed all previous gala records. Held this year at the iconic Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the historic event on April 1 surpassed all previous galas, raising over $1.4 million to support the school’s students and mission. The total proceeds came from sponsorships, the online, silent, and live auctions, and the Moment to Give pledges.  

The jaw dropping moment of the evening was the live auctioning of the Goldendoodle puppy that went for a final bid of $100,000 after a fierce bidding war —causing even veteran auctioneer Jim Nye to comment he had never seen such a high ending bid for a puppy in his 30 years of professional auctioneering.  

While the puppy was the highest single item in the fast-paced live auction, six tours of Jay Leno’s Garage, which the famous comedian auctioned off himself, went for 20,000 each for a total of $120,000. The Taylor Swift concert at SoFi Stadium brought in an impressive final bid of $55,000.  

Another amazing moment of the evening was the announcement by Head of School Rob Black that beloved softball coach and longtime OCS employee Peter Ackermann— who passed away in December 2022—had bequeathed to the school a gift of $1 million dollars. After a moment of stunned silence, thunderous applause filled the ballroom and a standing ovation ensued. 

The venerable hotel was the perfect venue for the 600 guests who attended the art-deco themed evening in their formal attire. In addition to the live auction, guests also had opportunities to bid on many fabulous silent auction items during the cocktail hour, including beautiful jewelry, sports packages and memorabilia, vacation experiences, and other unique items. 

OCS Institute of Arts and Innovation students set the mood with their music as guests entered to check in and mingle during the cocktail hour. Performing were: Caleb Polaha, Luke Rockney, Rose Krueger, Sullivan Smith, Hannah Lowe, Sophia Brokke, Andrea Woodward, Keira Buhr, Levi Bennett, Hannah Luithly, and Graysen Carlsen.. The Moment to Give, where guests had the opportunity to give directly was accentuated by the performance of Lowe, Krueger, Brokke and Smith who, appropriately, sang “Opportunity.” 

The evening ended with a lively concert by Richie who sang many of his greatest hits including "Stuck on You," " Easy," "Dancing on the Ceiling," "Hello," "Brick House" (from his Commodore days), and ending with "All Night Long." Guests created a spontaneous “mosh pit” getting up to dance in front of the stage to enjoy themselves as he closed out the evening.