Wayzata and Orono Teenagers Organize Local Gala for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Wayzata and Orono teenagers create a gala to fund St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

This past January, a driven group of young adults saw their dreams become reality. Dressed to the nines, they walked a red carpet with their friends and heard the unmistakable click of the camera flash. They feasted on an elegant dinner, sipped mocktails and enjoyed a tasty chocolate fountain—all in the name of charity, at the St. Jude Red Carpet for Hope Teen Gala.

It was an event a long time in the making. Each attendee had raised more than $250 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee. “They posted on social media, sent out emails to friends and family—a lot of them really went above and beyond,” says Melissa Bargmann, the St. Jude representative who helped bring this all together. Altogether, the guests raised more than $41,000—no small sum.

But Bargmann was only part of the equation. The idea was thought up and executed by a group of 10 teens from the Lake Minnetonka, Orono and Wayzata areas who formed the planning committee. “We had weekly meetings every Tuesday,” says Jake Avery, committee member from Orono High School. “We’d just talk about all our ideas for the event, get an outline of what we were going to do, and plan the activities.”

Creating such a huge event can be a challenge even for professionals—so for a group of teenagers, it was a powerful experience. “I learned that you can really make a big difference just starting with a few people,” says Lizzy Berg, head of the social media planning for the gala and a Wayzata High School student, “and actually kids can do a lot more than they think.”

This is a dream that lives on. Next year’s gala is already in the works, and the team is hoping to get even more people involved in the planning committee. “In all our fundraising offices in the country,” says Bargmann, “St. Jude has never done anything like a teen gala before. We are so proud of them!” To get involved, contact Bargmann at melissa.bargmann@stjude.org.