Over 300 people came together to “get wild” under the stars at Jumpstart’s Scribbles to Novels gala on April 30, 2015 at the San Francisco Zoo to celebrate the power of the written word. Every year, the gala invites prominent authors, celebrities, and leaders in early childhood education to underscore the importance of literature in children’s lives and reinforce our critical mission—to work toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.
This year, the author was Cheryl Strayed. Her novel Wild is a New York Times best-seller, and inspired the Oscar-nominated movie sharing the same title starring Reese Witherspoon. Wild details Strayed’s personal story: devastated by the death of her mother while in college and a failed marriage, Strayed was moved to find herself on a 1100 mile hike that would take her along the Pacific Crest Trail. She hiked from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington without any backpacking or hiking experience. Her story is nothing short of inspirational and jaw-dropping.
Tickets to Scribbles were $1000 per person. Upon check-in, guests received a signed copy of Wild and a map that would take guests on a 5-minute “hike” to the Lion’s Den, the area of the zoo where a large clear tent housed both the cocktail and dinner areas. Along the way were trail markers and guides, and chance to get close with the zoo’s furry residents. Guests had options to chase down roaming peacocks, pet a snake, hoot with an owl, party with penguins, or get breathtakingly close to a tiger. Strayed encountered some of these animals on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Event hosts were Greg and Tracy Johnson, and Gordy and Khristine Holterman. Tracy Johnson led efforts in event coordination and painstakingly ensured that every detail fit with the theme of the book. From hiking boot centerpieces to wooden dinner menus to the smell of pine wafting in the air, everything was wild. And everything was beautiful. The three-course dinner included: granny smith apple salad topped with a champagne walnut vinaigrette; braised short rib with au gratin potatoes; and deconstructed s’mores topped with northwest berries.
Going into dinner, Jumpstart had raised $420,000 from ticket sales and corporate sponsors. During dinner, a challenge to raise an additional $80,000 was made. And everyone in attendance, some of whom wrote big checks for $5,000 and $10,000 all rose to the occasion, and met the challenge and then some. This outstanding effort was helped made possible by a Jumpstart national board member who offered to match every dollar above $50,000 donated that night! Total fundraising tabulations are still being calculated.
Los Angeles! This fall, Jumpstart will host another star-studded evening at a private home in the Pacific Palisades that you will not want to miss. Stay tuned for more details on the date and ticket sale!