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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/CARIN SCHOPPMEYER Valarie and Justin Sappington, with their daughters Abbie (from left), Lauren and Hadley, are the March of Dimes Ambassador Family at the Signature Chefs Auction of Northwest Arkansas on Oct. 12 at Brightwater in Bentonville.

A dozen area chefs joined forces for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction of Northwest Arkansas on Oct. 12 at Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food in Bentonville. Some 200 guests helped raise more than $112,000 for the nonprofit organization.

A panel of judges selected chefs for awards. The 2017 Signature Chef Award went to Darin Byer of Meiji; Best Presentation, Chrissy Sanderson, Mockingbird Kitchen; and Best in Taste and People's Choice, Maudie Schmitt, Cafe Rue Orleans.

At a Glance

Signature Chefs Auction

Who: March of Dimes

What: A dozen area chefs joined forces to help raise money for the organization.

When: Oct. 12

Where: Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food

Next: March for Babies, March 13

Information: (870) 932-0300 or


Who: Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center

What: The group broke ground on the site for the Early Childhood Initiatives Center

When: Thursday Oct. 19

Where: J Street in Bentonville

Information: (479) 273-3552 or

Chefs competing in the kitchen for kids were:

Maudie Schmitt, event culinary chairwoman, Cafe Rue Orleans;

Keith Burmylo, event lead chef, Bocca;

Chrissy Sanderson, Mockingbird Kitchen;

Travis McConnell, Butcher & Pint;

Jennifer Madewell, KFB Events;

Rob Nelson, Tusk & Trotter;

Scott Baker, Tusk & Trotter;

Kurt Plankenhorn, 28 Springs;

Brent Hale, Big Sexy Food; and

Justus Moll, River Grille.

Those joining March of Dimes for the evening included Cara and Marcus Osborne, Al Dominguez,Nassima and Sharif Omar, Debbie and Marc Crandall, Julie McWhorter, Valarie and Justin Sappington, Kathy and Joe Farnan and Holly and Jim Breach.

The Helen R. Walton Children's Enrichment Center and Early Childhood Initiatives Center will join the Scott Family Amazeum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville's burgeoning "Discovery District," Paul Stolt, Amazeum marketing director, told supporters of the children's enrichment center Thursday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the hay field on J Street in Bentonville, just south of the Amazeum.

The group currently serves 240 children on site and annually works with some 200 development centers, about half of those in the region, six days a week in one training room. The new site will allow for more space to train early childhood professionals with the goal of serving all centers in the region.

The 8,700-square-foot facility will house an expanded training center, library, collaboration room, computer lab and flexible space.

Michelle Barnes, executive director, said: "We get to take what's been on paper for the past couple of years and go vertical."

Among those championing the children's enrichment center were Lynne Walton, Olivia Walton, Marilyn and Bob Bogle, Becky Alexander, Diane Carroll, Kyle Peterson, John Furner, Kyle Peterson, Shelley McMillon, Erin Hogue, Chris Sooter, Marcy Camacho, Julie McKenzie, Alan Dranow, Julie Gehrki, Rhonda and Harrison French, Greg Fogle, Russ Daniel, Paul Lewis, Ken Mantel, Maury Peterson, Jason Nichol and Michelle Barnes, executive director.

For more event photos --

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at

NAN Profiles on 10/22/2017

Print Headline: New center lifts kids

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