The Secret Garden Gala brings hope to many. A recap of the event.

The Secret Garden Gala returned for its annual celebration of warmth, laughter, joy and tears at the lovely Garden Room in the Dixie Convention Center on May 12, 2023. Businesses, non-profits and locals joined together and raised money for the families of Root for Kids. We were honored to have Litehouse Inc return as our Platinum & Presenting Sponsor for the 5th year. Coy Bowles tuned in from Nashville with an inspirational keynote speech (along with an unplugged performance of two songs). All this and more in our recap of Root for Kids 30th Anniversary Secret Garden Gala

Social Hour

At 5:30 our guests arrived to socialize and view our live auction items (over 100 items, generously donated from local businesses and boutiques). After being seated, a delicious dinner of steak and salmon was served. Our evening’s hosts, Susi Lafaele and Ed Tracey welcomed the audience. Susi then shared an emotional personal story about her three nephews, who were enrolled in our Early Intervention program. Their family experienced great improvements. We absolutely love hearing stories of our alumni’s success.

Susi Lafaele shares her family’s Root for Kid story at the Secret Garden Gala.


Community Awards

Root for Kids wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of our local community. Every year, we like to show appreciation to those who give back so much, not only to us, but to the entire Southern Utah community. These are the people, businesses and organizations that received this year’s community awards:

Outstanding Community Partner: BlvdHome

BlvdHome is awarded Outstanding Community Partner at The Secret Garden Gala.

Outstanding Business: Hughes General Contractors

Hughes General Contractors is awarded Outstanding Business at The Secret Garden Gala.

Outstanding Health Partner: Family Healthcare

Family Healthcare is awarded Outstanding Health Partner at The Secret Garden Gala.


Outstanding Volunteer: Susan Sims

Susan Sims is awarded Outstanding Volunteer at The Secret Garden Gala

Outstanding Donor: Hurst Wood Foundation

The Hurst Wood Education Foundation is awarded Outstanding Donor at The Secret Garden Gala.

Gardeners of Hope: James & Ilona Christopherson

James & Ilona Christopherson are awarded the Gardner’s of Hope award at The Secret Garden Gala.

Debbie Justice Legacy Award: Litehouse Inc. (our returning presenting sponsor) 

Litehouse Inc is awarded the Debbie Justice Legacy Award at The Secret Garden Gala.

Litehouse Inc Roots for Kids video.

Keynote Address

This year, we had a very special guest join us from Nashville. Coy Bowles, guitarist, keyboardist, singer, and songwriter for the three-time Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band streamed in and gave our attendees a truly inspirational and toe-tappingly great keynote address. Coy is an advocate for literacy, early education, and teacher appreciation, so he fits right in with Root for Kids mission statement. To top it off, Coy donated all 5 of his award-winning children’s books, his children’s album, a signed Zac Brown Band CD, a signed Zac Brown Band LP, and a signed guitar, which was used as this year’s raffle prize! We can’t thank Coy enough for tuning in and making the Secret Garden Gala a magical evening.  

Live Auction

As usual, our live auction became hilariously rambunctious. Susi and Ed were fantastic at keeping the mood light and the bidding high. Trips to Mexico, Canada, the Grand Canyon and Sonoma wine country were in high demand. Our friends at BlvdHome donated a luxurious mattress that raised a lot of paddles. A Parade of Homes limo tour finished the auction and was snapped up quickly.

Our 30th Anniversary – A celebration of our alumni

After the live auction, we were honored to have Cydney Holt speak. Her daughter, Temery is one of our enrolled children. Temery had a rough start on life – open heart surgery and non-verbal delays caused by a rare 22q11 deletion syndrome. With the help of Kindermusik and in-home speech therapy, Temery is now starting to verbalize. Her daughter’s story, like so many other children, is the heart of Root for Kids. Which is why for this year’s Gala video, we wanted to celebrate our alumni of the past 30 years and share several success stories. You can watch the video here. 

Cydney Holt shares her daughter Temery’s Root for Kids story.



Thank You

And with that highly emotional note, we would once again like to say thank you to our sponsors, emcees, donors, gala committee, and volunteers for putting on a great evening. We can’t wait to see you next year!


Throughout the year, we have several events that help raise thousands of dollars for our organization. These events are critical in our success by raising funds for our families in need and organization. The Secret Garden Gala is one of our biggest events. This event simply would not have happened without our sponsors. Litehouse Inc returned for the 5th year as our platinum & presenting sponsor. Litehouse has been one of our most consistent donors through the years and we cannot thank them enough. The American Dream Foundation and BlvdHome were our gold sponsors, and they also belong in this category of donors who consistently help Root for Kids’ mission by being a recurring donor. Watts Construction, Flitch, Albertsons Foundation and Southern Utah Home Builders Association were our silver sponsors, and again recurring donors who show us support year after year. Every sponsorship makes a huge impact in our community, and filling out our bronze sponsorships were Altabank, Snow Jensen & Reece, Charlotte Shelley, Friends of TLC, Utah Tech Nursing, Main Street Insurance, Unite Us, America First Credit Union, Infinite Solutions Inc, Rainbow Sign & Banner, University of Utah Health, Stapley Pharmacy, Ruthy’s Fit Club & Fashion, State Bank of Southern Utah and Infowest. To all of our sponsors, from all of us at Root for Kids, Thank you!

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