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Bridge Celebrates 50 Years of Helping Families at Annual Children’s Charity Ball

Board President Sue Hamilton (second from left) poses with her husband, Paul, daughter Laura, and Laura's boyfriend, Matt. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Generous patrons celebrated in style at The Bridge Family Center’s annual Children’s Charity Ball, held in the Marquee Events’ Gershon Fox Ballroom.

From left: Michael Cantor, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor. Bridge Board member Kathy Christensen, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The atmosphere was festive and glamorous – as elegantly-clad guests strolled down the red carpet into the elegant Gershon Fox Ballroom in Hartford for the West Hartford-based Bridge Family Center’s 20th annual black tie event, the Children’s Charity Ball.

And while the ball itself was glitzy, the mission of the Bridge, which the nonprofit has been fulfilling for 50 years, is very basic: supporting the children and families in the community.

About 350 guests attended the gala event– community and business leaders from West Hartford and the surrounding area supporting the Bridge’s operations that include six shelters, three mental health clinics, a family resource and teen center, and other services for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

“Everyone involved with our event, from our honorary chairs, planning committee, and volunteers – to our guests, sponsors, and vendors – is mission driven, and that has never been more obvious than last night,” said Children’s Charity Ball coordinator Amanda Aronson.

“Our new guests shared with us how often people spoke with them about the value of the Bridge. They understand that the money raised at the Ball stays local, and our guests are proud to play an active role in keeping our community strong,” Aronson said. “We couldn’t be happier with how smoothly things ran, and we appreciate how many of our returning guests took the time to share that with us as well.”

The theme for the 2019 event was “growth” – honoring the how the Bridge has steadily grown as a steadfast protector of children and families over the past 50 years, and continues to grow through the services it provides.

“Together, we pause to reflect on the strategic growth of the Bridge over the last 50 years while we help fortify it, so it can continue to serve the most vulnerable children and families in our region,” Board President Susan Hamilton wrote in a letter that appeared in the program.

Executive Director Margaret Hann, speaking to guests at the event, noted how critical the role of the Bridge has been in times of crisis, as well as in providing a solid foundation through its programs for children and families. In December, the Bridge provided extensive support to West Hartford Public Schools following a tragic event – just one example of the critical role the organization plays.

WFSB meteorologist and co-host of “Better CT” Scot Haney returned for the 18th year as emcee and auctioneer.

Live auction highlights included tickets to a Billy Joel concert paired with a stay in a luxurious boutique hotel in New York City, a “Boston sports getaway” with tickets to the Bruins and Celtics and an overnight stay at the Seaport Hotel, a week in the French countryside, an African safari, exclusive dinner for six at Max’s Oyster Bar, an in-home dinner for eight prepared by chef Noel Jones, tickets to Red Sox opening day, two tickets to see Ariana Grande at Mohegan Sun, at a tasting event for four at one of the DORO restaurants, an eight-hour night on the town in a Premier Limousine, golf for four at the Shelter Island Golf Club, and a tour of WFSB and lunch with Haney. Many also pledged to attend a party at Waypoint Distillery in September.

The “Changing Lives Challenge” also raised thousands, as did a silent auction, and “bling” and basket raffles.

“We offer our thanks to our sponsors, guests, and especially to our incredible honorary chairs, Rob and Dawn Koff and Bob and Debbie Katz. They are humble, dedicated, generous people whom we value immensely, and they were the perfect stewards to lead us into our 50th year,” said Aronson.

The committee is still tabulating the proceeds, but the galas typically net in excess of $240,000 for the organization.

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Children’s Charity Ball Committee. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo courtesy of Iris Photography

Jessica and Dallas Dodge. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Michael Cantor and Mayor Shari Cantor. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Executive Director Margaret Hann and her husband, George. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

John and Jessica Lyons. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Curt and Kathy Christensen. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ted and Ronni Newton. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019.

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Michael Cantor, Shari Cantor, Pam Rosow, Eric Rosow. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sen. Richard Blumenthal was a guest at the Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Pam Rosow, Eric Rosow, Scott Aronson, Amanda Aronson. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emcee Scot Haney of WFSB. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Executive Director Margaret Hann. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Honorary chairs (from left): Debbie Katz, Bob Katz, Rob Koff, Dawn Koff. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mary Butler (left) and Denise Brian. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Joan Karas (left) and Helen Rubino-Turco. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Event coordinator Amanda Aronson and her husband, Scott. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

William McDonald and Kara Fenn. Bridge Family Center’s 20th Annual Children’s Charity Ball. Jan. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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