The event was a smashing success, raising over $550,000 to help support MICC's amazing programming and services for autistic and neurodivergent adults. And let's not forget the real star of the show – the themed costumes! MICC's galas are never dull, and this year was no exception.
The social hour was filled with fun beach-themed games and a silent auction featuring incredible gifts, tickets, and packages from various supporters, including participant artwork and baskets from families. But the real highlight of the night was the live auction, which featured vacation homes, cabins, and condos in Lake Tahoe, Mexico, Daytona Beach, northern Minnesota, and the upper peninsula of Michigan, as well as a private chef dinner.
The party was kicked off by MICC's very own Rock Band playing "Surfin' U.S.A." by The Beach Boys while MICC participants entered the event to get the party started! MICC's Executive Director, Amy Gudmestad, and participant Josie Hargarten were the night's emcees. They started the night with a thank you to the band and honored MICC's founders, Bev and Roe Hatlen.
The program continued with powerful videos showcasing MICC participants, including the night's emcee, Josie, and her husband Jordan, and friends at various stages in their journey at MICC, providing a great side-by-side look at the growth that participants experience in the College and Community Programs.
Josie shared her story about being in MICC's College Program, meeting her husband, and how her life has changed. "I thought I'd live in my parent's basement forever and that I wouldn't have any friends. I thought my life would be lonely," Josie shared with the crowd of 750 attendees. "I learned how to live independently and still use these skills every day. I now have the tools I need to advocate for myself, and my life is nothing like I thought it would be." What a powerful testament to the importance of MICC's programs for autistic teens and young adults.
The night concluded with a dance party, but not before recognizing this year's graduating seniors who have shown nothing but resiliency as they learned to live independently, grow their social networks, and find employment in the midst of a pandemic.
The gala committee would like to thank everyone who made the night a success, including the sponsors, volunteers, and staff. And to all the participants who choose to share their stories with the world, thank you! Without you, events like this would not be possible.
Save the date for the 21st annual gala on Saturday, March 9, 2024. Until then, you can re-live the magic of this year's gala program here. Let's keep supporting MICC's programs and celebrating the amazing work done in the autism community!
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