Advocates raise $127,500 to champion children

Posted: October 22, 2017 at 2:28 a.m.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families went all out for its first gala, and with good reason. This year marks the child advocacy organization's 40th year. About 400 people helped celebrate during the Oct. 12 event at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Five of the organization's 10 founding board members attended: retired Judge Olly Neal, Dorothy Nayles, Pat Lile, Mary Sue Hornor Jacobs and Jim Miles. Master of ceremonies Craig O'Neill called the 10 "the Mother Teresas of our state." Two other founding board members -- Betty Bumpers and Hillary Clinton -- were unable to attend. Three were recognized posthumously -- Bettye Caldwell, Dr. Betty Ann Lowe and Sharon Pallone.

Also attending were former executive director Amy Rossi and Arkansas Advocates' current head, Rich Huddleston.

Huddleston, recognized nationally for his work, has more than two decades of dedication to the organization.

Speaking to Rossi and Huddleston's leadership, board president Jay Barth said, "When there was a need, Arkansas Advocates stood up and led the way" in advocating and lobbying for legislative and policy changes regarding child welfare, early childhood education or children's health.

Perhaps Miles said it best: "It's like watching a child grow up. Our child is grown and doing well. I believe [Arkansas] Advocates will far outlive all of us in this room tonight."

Gifts and donations were still trickling in the day after the event, but organizers estimated proceeds at about $127,500.

-- Story and photos by Cyd King

for the Democrat-Gazette

High Profile on 10/22/2017