19th Annual ‘Children Helping Children’ Breaks Fundraising Record

PANDA Fashion Show and Luncheon nets $3 million-plus to support Epilepsy Project

The Phoenix Women’s Board of the Steele Children’s Research Center, known as PANDA (People Acting Now Discover Answers), netted more than $3 million for children’s epilepsy research at its annual fundraising luncheon April 14. Almost 1,200 guests attended the 19th annual PANDA “Children Helping Children” Fashion Show and Luncheon at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn.

The party began outside with an extensive silent auction, featuring custom playhouses and more, but the highlight of the day was the children on the runway. This year’s fashion show, themed “A Jewel in the Desert,” featured 55 child models from across the Valley and Tucson, dressed in spring fashions provided by Ralph Lauren.

Kyle Christensen, Lindsey Williams, Gretchen Schubert and Allison Irwin co-chaired the event. Michelle Etkin served as the model coach for the 18th consecutive year, Letitia Frye was the auctioneer and Jamie Krell was the emcee.

Proceeds support the Steele Center’s exploration, in partnership with Rady Children’s Genomic Institute in San Diego, into basic science and clinical approaches focused on children who had their first epileptic event as infants or at an early age. The Rady team will provide whole genome sequencing for children, and the Steele team will investigate genetic mutations to determine their functionality and how to treat them. The goal is to develop a new paradigm for treatment of these children through research, including whole genome sequencing, examination of structural brain disorders and metabolic issues.


Allison Irwin, Andrea Stewart Pritchett, Lauren Ellington, Alicia Flatin and Lacy Francisco in front of the BoHo beach house designed by PHX Architecture in collaboration with Sonora West Development and Broadrick Design

Mike Bill, Sam Fox and Kevin Calihan

Wilson and Emerson Fleming

Kyle Christensen, Allison Irwin, Jacque Linaman, Gretchen Schubert and Lindsey Williams with PANDA founders Penny Gunning, left, and Robyn DeBell, right

Raffle cubs Sylvie Ceran, Kennedy Frakes, Scarlette Shapiro, Kaitlin Gaona and Lyla Shapiro

The paddle raiser, sponsored by Carvana

Cade Young and his brother, patient model Carter

Patient model Patrick Polachek with Dr. Ghishan

Jordan and Kelly Vasbinder in front of the built toy garage

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