University of California, Irvine’s Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders held its fifth annual Hope & Help Gala on Sept. 7 at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach.
The sold-out event raised nearly $400,000 to increase awareness for those affected by autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders, officials explained in a press release.
In addition to the nearly 300 guests who attended, the event was full of special guests, including three-time NBA Lakers champion Byron Scott. He was accompanied by fiancé Cece Gutierrez of “Basketball Wives.” Scott surprised the crowd with a live bidding opportunity for personalized signed sports memorabilia, the press release notes.
“America’s Got Talent” season 14 winner Kodi Lee, a 22-year-old blind and autistic musical prodigious savant, took to the stage with a live musical performance on the piano. His family spoke about their experience with autism.
Co-hosted by Jaril Tudo and Krystine Solomon, the program for the evening also included dinner, a live auction and inspirational stories about how the Center is making a difference in the lives of families throughout Orange County.
Honorees this year included the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, an organization that advocates for the protection of individuals and their access to civil justice, and Chace and Anne Warmington, longtime supporters of the Center.
Funds raised at the gala will benefit several key programs, including the Center’s “Transition to Adulthood” program that was created to help 18 to 24-year-olds.
Home to a team of experts in the field of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders, the Center helps parents and families navigate the system, overcome obstacles, and assist children in reaching their optimal potential through excellent clinical care, innovative research, quality education, and community engagement to children, adolescents and young adults from birth to young adulthood.
For more information, visit thecenter4autism.org.