AdventHealth’s Golden Gala 40 was this past November and focused on filling the gap in care for children living with behavioral and mental health disorders while supporting other essential programs and services at AdventHealth. We had an amazing turnout with over 3,500 people in attendance at our new venue, the Amway Center! 1,000 of those guests were our front-line caregivers from AdventHealth who were invited for the first time. We are so thankful for their dedication to keeping our communities safe and healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At Gala, we honored our amazing Circle of Friends committee who have been long-time supporters of AdventHealth Foundation and helped shape Golden Gala into what it is today. Our silent and live auctions were more successful than ever before, with a package including a stay at Disney’s Galactic Star Cruiser going for $200,000! And of course, we had the wonderfully talented Carrie Underwood perform some of her greatest songs to the delight of the entire arena. It was an amazing night, full of generous people coming together to extend the healing ministry of Christ. The stories of our patients and example of our compassionate care took center stage.
Roger’s story began when he was just 7 years old when he quickly became a natural at soccer. Overtime, he was able to develop his skills and make the Orlando City team just below the pro level at a young age. In the Summer of 2018, he travelled to Spain for an international tournament but when he returned, he could tell that something wasn’t right. He started to get small headaches that became much worse and was taken to AdventHealth to determine the cause. Soon after Roger's trip to the ER, doctors discovered he had a brain tumor.
Thankfully, the treatments and surgeries were successful and he was able to return to his normal life afterwards. However, Roger didn’t feel like it was normal at all. “I started thinking, why did life have to cut off all of my dreams, my aspirations and all the things that I was looking forward to? I felt like I had no purpose left and didn’t want to be here anymore.” It is fairly common for someone who goes through a major life change, like surgery, to come back to their regular life and not feel the same. In Roger’s case, he stopped going to soccer practice and didn’t have the strength to do what he normally would anymore.
Roger became unable to control his emotions and thought about ending his life several times. On one occasion, Roger became very close to committing suicide. The next day, Roger’s family took him to get help from Cassandra, a clinical psychologist at AdventHealth. “When he first came in, we saw someone struggling to accept what had happened, where they were, and adjusting to a new normal.” Little by little, Cassandra helped Roger learn to enjoy life again and accept his situation.
“If you told me a year or two ago that I’d be here today, I wouldn’t have believed you because I couldn’t see a way forward. If I can help anyone else out there who is going through something like this and facing these giants, I’d tell them that there is light at the end of the tunnel and they can find new meaning to their life,” Roger said.
Now more than ever, seeking care for mental wellness is especially important, given the increase in stress and isolation brought on by COVID-19. There continues to be a severe national shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Nearly one in five U.S. children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder each year. Only about 20% of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive care from a specialized mental health care provider.
Our goal is to create a wholistic, mental health program at AdventHealth for Children. This new program will establish a much-needed clinical infrastructure to prevent crises, implement early screenings, improve access to patient care, and expand educational and board-certified mental health care services out into the community.
At Golden Gala 40, we were able to raise over $1.7 million thanks to the incredible generosity of our community. We are grateful for your support in making Golden Gala 40 a success. We look forward to seeing you at AdventHealth’s Golden Gala 41.