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GALLERY: Pahrump luau entertains for a cause

ACORN, or Advocates for Children of Rural Nevada, hosted its annual Luau this past Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Calvada Eye and while the weather may have been chilly, the atmosphere at the Hawaiian-themed event was anything but.

A night of fundraising in the name of foster youth advocacy, the annual Luau is one of ACORN’s biggest events of the year and it brings in much-needed cash to support the nonprofit’s mission.

“All proceeds from the Luau go toward recruiting and training qualified volunteers who will in turn advocate for children in the foster care system, who have been abused and neglected. It is only through your generous and continued support that we can continue to bring a voice to these children in Nye and Esmeralda counties,” the event program detailed.

A large crowd of patrons filled the Calvada Eye Saturday evening, all ready to sip on tropical drinks from the “Tiki Hut”, run by local business The Wine Down, and pursue both the silent auction and selection of pick-a-prize items. Once dinner was announced, a line immediately began to form, with eager patrons anticipating chowing down on the Hawaiian buffet that included beef, pork and chicken options, along with sides like macaroni salad, sticky rice, garden salad and of course, sweet Hawaiian rolls and Hawaiian cakes.

For the evening’s entertainment, the Luau saw the return of Rau Tama Nui, a Las Vegas-based group that has become a much-loved and highly-anticipated part of the annual event.

“Rau Tama Nui (Children of Many Cultures) is… dedicated to keeping traditional island dance and culture thriving through instruction and performance of Hawaiian, Tahitian and other Polynesian based traditional dances, drumming and music,” the event program reads.

ACORN Executive Director Kathie McKenna is obviously a huge fan of the group, telling the Pahrump Valley Times, “Rau Tama Nui is such a wonderful family. This is their third year of volunteering to do our Hawaiian entertainment and they knock it out of the park every time! They have become such an integral part of the Luau.”

Entertainment was followed by a live auction with professional auctioneers Ski Censke and Ron Gipson at the helm. The live auction featured several large prizes, such as tickets to the Las Vegas Raider vs. Minnesota Vikings game on Dec. 10, tickets to see the Las Vegas Golden Knights play and authentic Mickey Mantle/New York Yankees memorabilia.

But the biggest prize of the night was undoubtedly the one-week vacation to Kauai, given away as part of ACORN’s 2nd Annual Hawaiian Vacation Raffle. Tickets to enter were $100 each but there was a limit on the number of tickets sold, meaning the chances of winning were none to thin. McKenna reported that this fundraising effort alone brought in $17,000. When combined with $19,300 earned by the Luau itself, this means more than $36,000 for the organization.

Helping to make the event a massive success were a full dozen table sponsors. The Aloha sponsors included local businesses 775.FYI, Artesian Cellars, Desert View Hospital, Estate 411, Gunny’s A/C and Heating, the Law Office of Robin M. Holseth, Meadows Bank, Paul Healey and Sons CPA, Valley Electric, along with residents and staunch ACORN supporters Brian Kunzi and Gretchen Loken. The sole Ohana sponsor of the evening was Living Free Health and Fitness.

“I greatly appreciate our active board, our advocates and volunteers, and our fabulous sponsors and attendees. This support allows us to have a healthy and productive organization for our foster children in our community,” McKenna concluded.

Next up for ACORN will be its Winter Training, which will begin in January and offer residents the opportunity to become a volunteer foster care advocate. Then it’s time for the nonprofit’s other big event of each year, the ACORN Crab Fest, scheduled for Feb. 17, 2024.

For more on the upcoming training session or additional information visit www.ACORNV.org

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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