It is an hour designed to both inspire and engage people to help change a life, maybe even their own.
And it's a powerful testimony to a family's faith and love in believing there is always hope even in times of despair. Three hundred people recently listened quietly to a story about a little boy who only lived 32 hours, but whose life has impacted many. It was his story that highlighted the fifth annual "There is Hope" fundraising luncheon for the Upland-based Steven's Hope.
It is the most important 60 minutes of the year for the group.
"It gives us an opportunity to let our supporters know what we have accomplished and where we want to go next year," said Tony Cappelli, president and executive director, in the event's invitation.
Doctors told parents Tony and Sandy Cappelli the sad news early in her pregnancy that their son, Steven Joseph Cappelli, had a fatal heart defect. The Upland couple decided to continue with the pregnancy in hopes of donating his organs. That wasn't possible, but the legacy of his short life lives on, now 12 years later, in Steven's Hope, the nonprofit organization the Cappellis established in his memory.
Today, the organization continues to help families coping with living with an injured or seriously ill child. Steven's Hope provides financial support and housing to those families, but more importantly it serves as a support network in what is usually a lengthy ordeal.
The Cappellis shared their story during the luncheon.
In 2011, alone the organization helped 1,600 children in need.
Yet, there is always more to do, he said, and the reality is that it takes money.
"The kids didn't choose to get sick during bad economic times so we just have to move on," he said.
Steven's Hope supporters also are in full holiday mode. The annual Winter Wonderland toy campaign needs donations.
About $70,000 worth of toys will be distributed to families in the program and to children at seven Inland Empire hospitals. If the public would like to adopt a family, arrangements can be made. Sponsors are needed, too, for the annual Winter Wonderful Christmas party for Steven's Hope children and families. The party costs about $1,250.
And Steven's Hope is launching a new project in January. It's simply called WAY - Wonderland All Year. The idea is to help families by giving them $100 grocery and gas cards along with vouchers for clothing from the Steven's Hope Children's Boutique in Rancho Cucamonga each month. The goal is to initially help 10 families along with all the others that receive assistance.
Small polished rocks were placed at each luncheon table with the message "Make a Ripple." That was the whole theme of the afternoon, trying to encourage one person to commit, which in turn will attract even more volunteers and donors.
"The next 10 years of Steven's Hope begins today. We need more people throwing stones," he said.
Donations and sponsorships of all amounts are welcome. For more information about Steven's Hope, call 909-373-0678.