Many stories are built on hope. These are the stories that keep us looking forward. They inspire us, challenge us, and empower us to create our own stories. The Child Development Center in Casper is a program built on these kinds of stories and, now, they are telling one of those stories at the 2021 Kids Art A La Carte fundraising event, with their ‘Storybook Evening.’

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Kids Art A La Carte has been an institution of the Child Development Center for the past 20 years. This year marks its 21st anniversary and the event itself with be bigger than ever, with a live auction, entertainment, dinner, and more.

In addition to the live auction, there will be 5 raffles throughout the evening – one of which will offer the keys to the 40th Anniversary Edition of a 1993 Chevrolet Corvette. Various works of art will be on display, and auctioned off as well – all with the goal of raising money to help support the Child Development Center for another year.

“Art A La Carte is huge,” said Alisha Rone, Executive Director of the Child Development Center. “It’s huge for the operations of CDC, because to provide all of the services we do and the extra programming for children with and without special needs, we must rely on our annual event and the community to help keep us going.”

The reach that CDC has throughout the community is enormous. The number of lives CDC has touched, the number of children it has served, and the number of families to which it has offered hope cannot be understated. This event is the community’s chance to say thank you and, in doing so, they might just walk away with a pretty cool prize.

“This is the 21st year of Kids’ Art A La Carte,” Rone stated. “This year, we’ve partnered with [local artist] Zak Pullen to help us portray the story of Hope and the hope that CDC provides to the children and families that we serve.”

Zak Pullen illustrated a story for CDC that was written by a local author, and if Pullen’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably seen various examples of his work all throughout Casper. Being able to work with CDC, he said, was a chance he jumped at.

“The craziest thing is that my first large painting I ever did was for the Child Development Center,” Pullen stated. “So I have some connection there. But I think CDC is amazing. I think they reach much further and deeper than what people actually know about. With all the budget cuts in Wyoming due to COVID and all the other stuff that’s going on, I feel like it’s the best time in the world to actually support some local non-profits that are doing such amazing work.”

The storybook in question that Pullen illustrated is an actual hardcopy version of the story of Hope and what she has meant to the families of CDC. It’s the best takeaway CDC could offer to guests of the event, Rone said, because it is something that really exemplifies the work that CDC does on a daily basis.

The story of Hope, is a relatable one- a new dad in a waiting room, scared for the future of his newly-born, premature son. He was desperate, confused and utterly terrified. That is, he was until he came across a little girl who took his hand, looked him in the eye and told him that everything would be okay. The little girl’s name was Hope, and Hope was exactly what that father needed.

When the future is uncertain, many of us need hope, and that is exactly what the Child Development Center provides.

The future has certainly been uncertain this year. CDC’s Storybook Evening was originally supposed to take place last year but, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, it had to be postponed. That move itself just illustrates the resiliency of the Child Development Center and those who support it, according to Jillian Riddle, the Administrative Coordinator for the CDC.

“I think Art A La Carte this year is just a testament to the resilience of the Child Development Center,” Riddle stated. “We’ve been around for more than 50 years, serving children in Natrona County with special needs and providing a resource for all parents, whether they have children with special needs or not. 2020 was hard. Our donations were down and funding changed. I think this year, being able to even have the event and remaining as a healthy organization, we’re thriving right now. And I think that’s just a testament to the resilience of our organization.

“If you’ve ever wanted to show support for the Child Development Center and the children that we serve,” Rone stated, “this is the perfect chance to do it. You get a great meal, an eventful evening with awesome prizes, and you get to see what Hope really looks like to the community.”

CDC will be following all COVID-19 regulations that are in effect, ensuring a safe, fun, memorable night for all who come. Kids A La Carte is an important event for the Child Development Center. It allows them to show the community what they’ve done, what they’re doing, and what they hope to continue to do – which is offer hope to all those who need it.

“I think hope is so important for CDC because we have so many families who are going through really hard things but hope does last,” Riddle said. “Hope is eternal and that is what allows parents to get up every day, when they’re going through these hard things, to not give up. To highlight these events is so important because it encourages parents who see other parents that have overcome these really tough circumstances…it lets them know that we always have hope.”

 Kids Art A La Carte takes place at 6:00 p.m. on May 1st, at the Casper Events Center. 

Tickets to event are $65 for an individual, or $520 for a table of 8. Tickets can be purchased online here, or you can call 307-235-5097. 

To buy raffle tickets for the Chevy Corvette auction, go here.  

The event takes place at 6:00 p.m. on May 1st, at the Casper Events Center. 

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