Ballfest Arizona 2020

Annual afternoon recognizes young cancer survivors

Supporters of Ballsfest gathered March 15 at Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley to honor six bright, talented, courageous child cancer survivors. Known as Ballsfest Arizona, the third annual charity event was hosted by Ballsfest, a growing Arizona-based nonprofit organization that provides children and young adults battling cancer with personalized gifts and experiences. The organization was founded by testicular cancer survivor Frank DeBlasi.

Through his relationships with local hospitals, including Phoenix Children’s, Banner Cardon Children’s and Banner Thunderbird, DeBlasi works with the hospitals’ Child Life Teams to identify prospective beneficiaries. He calls them “Ballers” rather than patients, and he takes time from his job as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch to meet with each, along with their families, at least twice before he determines their gift. DeBlasi and his team create a memorable show at each Ballsfest event, with the Ballers as the stars.

Ballsfest Arizona 2020 concluded just one hour before Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered events of 50 or more to be canceled due to Covid-19. Despite the stressful time, more than 100 guests attended the March 15 event, where they enjoyed live music, a custom slider bar and an ice cream sundae station, in addition to an open bar.

The highlight of the afternoon was the Baller Ceremony. Held on the Mountain Shadows Lawn with Camelback Mountain as the backdrop, the ceremony was emceed by Vanessa Ramirez, television anchor and Arizona Diamondbacks in-game host. Six Ballers were individually recognized on stage, shared their stories and were presented with gifts.

PHOTOS BY THANOU THAMMAVONGSA, COURTESY BALLSFEST

Dr. Chris and Tiffany Speikerman, Chris and Kristin Ulrich, Shelly and Brett Brimley

Ballsfest Champions join Frank DeBlasi and Ballsfest team members on stage

Ballsfest Champion and Manor Owner Jeremy Davis joins Frank DeBlasi on stage to present a new Ballsfest hat, a tribute to 2018 Arizona Baller George Rivera who passed away in December 2019

Frank DeBlasi roasts Oliviah Hill on the Baller Throne before revealing her gift, a new custom playhouse

Ballsfest Champion Jane D’Amelio from Right Toyota/Honda joins Angel Aguilar, Odin, Samantha Preston and Frank DeBlasi for a photo after revealing Samantha’s gift, a four-day vacation at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego

Sponsors Jeff and Tara Marcussen join Asthon Gundlach and Frank DeBlasi for a photo after revealing Ashton’s gift, brand new state-of-the-art equipment to create his own podcast

Maicel Burnette joins Frank DeBlasi for a photo after revealing Maicel’s gift, an Apple Package

Back: Lexi Wright and her high-school sweetheart, 2020 Arizona Baller Nolan Hynes, are joined by their Ballership Sponsors, Monica Monson, Ginger Van Patten and Barry Van Patten. Front: Michelle Sarocka and Stacey Kretchmer, from Sotheby’s Monson Luxury Group, with Frank DeBlasi, after Nolan received his gift, free tuition for his final two years at GCU and an internship with the Monson Luxury Group

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