Friday’s Celebrity Waiters Gala sure was a long time coming.
When it was all said and done, though, it was worth the wait.
The Arizona Coyotes Foundation hosted its biggest fundraising event of the year at Gila River Resorts & Casinos – Wild Horse Pass last Friday, and the event raised $450,000, which will be used by the Foundation to support organizations that work to close the education gap, increase health outcomes and create access to economic advancement for diverse and underserved communities across Arizona.
Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo and his family contributed $100,000 to the fundraiser as well, highlighting their ongoing commitment to making a difference within the Arizona community.
“It was such a special night for an incredible cause in supporting the Foundation and its key work in this community, supporting organizations that are really making a difference in the lives of others,” Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said. “Being at Gila River Resorts & Casinos – Wild Horse Pass was very special, and the night was amazing.”
The entire Coyotes team showed up in force to support the cause, in which they waited tables and mingled with community leaders, donors, and fans. Attendees enjoyed cocktails and dinner while participating in both live silent auctions.
Friday marked the first time since January 2020 that the Foundation was able to hold the gala because of the global pandemic, and Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse said it was just as meaningful for the players to be able to attend one of their favorite events of the year.
Members of the team were excited and engaged from the very beginning.
“To be back here, and the money we’re raising goes towards a good cause for the Foundation, everyone’s excited about it,” Crouse said. “As professional athletes we have a platform to not only express who we are as people, but also to raise awareness a bunch of different things. This is one that we all look forward to, not only being able to serve everyone their food, but the chance and the ability to be able to reach out, talk, and be ourselves a little bit.”
Live auction prizes included a cooking class with Crouse and teammate Liam O’Brien, a PHAT Rides scooter, and a helicopter ride with Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone. Attendees also bid in the silent auction on a number of baskets and sports memorabilia that was provided/donated by local organizations.
Nadia Rivera, the Coyotes’ Chief Impact Officer and Executive Director of Foundation and Community Impact, said player participation, combined with the support of the team’s leadership and community leaders, made it a night that won’t soon be forgotten.
The gala marked yet another important step in the Foundation’s goal of becoming a $1 million granting organization.
“It’s very exciting to be able to come together for a great cause,” Rivera said. “We’ve done a lot of work over the past year to be able to be back in the community after COVID and to get to a place where we grow and invest more dollars into the community. On top of that, having the players show up is very important for who we are as a team, and an organization.”
Though the event is over, the Foundation’s hard work within the community is ramping up even more as it continues to work towards its lofty giving goals.
“The Foundation and Community Impact teams work tirelessly, and it was a very special night that couldn’t have happened without them,” Gutierrez said. “For our players to spend a night interacting with our incredible community leaders was really special.”
arizonacoyotes.com is the official Web site of the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona Coyotes is a trademark of IceArizona Hockey Co LLC. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2020 Arizona Coyotes, LLC and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.