The Ann Richards Foundation will not hold the annual celebration and fundraiser known as The Birthday Bash this September, and will replace it with a larger event called Reaching for the Stars.
“September is a really special month for Ann Richards,” said Principal Jeanne Goka. “She was born in the month of September, she also died in September. So when the Ann Richards School Foundation started up, they were looking for a way to celebrate her, to honor her, to showcase the school, and possibly be a fundraiser.”
The Birthday Bash, started by a former director of the Ann Richards Foundation, Michelle Krejci, celebrated its seventh anniversary last year. Students and staff alike attended one evening a year to showcase the school to donors.
“I’m actually kind of sad that they don’t have the birthday bash this year,” said sophomore Lucia Hruby, who attended the celebration three years in a row. “I think it’s a really cool way to work behind the scenes to get money for our school.”
This year, however, the Ann Richards School Foundation introduced plans for a new fundraiser that will be held in the spring that focuses on corporate fundraising and showcasing the senior class.
“The Birthday Bash was more for individuals. The Launch Party [Reach for the Stars] is for individuals, but also corporations that want to purchase an entire table, and they can invite people that would not normally be invited to the Birthday Bash,” said Jill DiCuffa, tenth through twelfth grade STARS teacher who was involved in the bash for the past seven years. “So it’s to reach out to the community, raise more money and do something really big for the seniors–and it’s a big undertaking.”
After recognizing that the audience of prospective donors had grown too large for the Birthday Bash, which was held in various private homes donated for the occasion, the foundation has outlined some new ideas for Reaching for the Stars.
“Now we go to the Four Seasons, we have a larger space, we’re selling more tables to raise more money, the girls are still being showcased, the school is still being featured,” said Goka. “But now it’s getting to corporations where they can give our girls internships, scholarships, jobs after college, they can exchange business cards–so larger picture here.”
Another addition to the fundraiser will be a celebrity woman coming to receive recognition at the event. Last year at the senior event, Holland Taylor was presented with an award for supporting the school.
“The attraction is that the girls are in charge, they do all the speeches and all that, but we have a big name coming to also be part of this group. We think that we’re going to get Lily Tomlin, that’s our big name for this time,” said Goka.
Though both DiCuffa, Goka, and the foundation have expressed excitement at the new fundraiser, the staff said that the time honored tradition of the Birthday Bash will be missed.
“The Birthday Bash was a great celebration of exactly what they intended to do–honor Governor Ann Richards, put our girls out there, and invite people that had been donors, or prospective donors,” said Goka.
Finally, DiCuffa expressed special delight at the memory of the old fundraiser. DiCuffa attended Governor Ann Richards’ sixtieth birthday in 1993.
“[Her sixtieth birthday] was a huge bash. Huge. I mean, Willie Nelson played, and all kinds of local artists and Texas artists, and things like that. And it was super fun and I realized that’s what she liked to do, and so to have that in her honor is very appropriate.”