14th Annual O Night Divine a SuccessDecember 14, 2018
This year, the Pujols Family Foundation celebrated their 14th annual O’ Night Divine Christmas Celebration on December 1, 2018. Hosted for the first time at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the work of the foundation throughout 2018, and share its plans for 2019.
The evening began with a VIP reception, where guests were able to meet and take a photo with Los Angeles Angels first baseman, and foundation president, Albert Pujols. Sweet treats were provided by Rocky Mountain Chocolate, and champagne from Major Brands.
In the general reception, guests were able to browse a large silent auction, featuring sports and entertainment memorabilia, dining experiences and trips, accessories and more. Also featured was a guest favorite, the baseball tree. For a $100 donation, guests received an autographed baseball singed by a mystery player.
As the receptions came to a close, the ballroom doors were opened. Guests took their seats, and were welcomed by emcee, Brad Thompson, former Cardinals pitcher and host of The Fast Lane on 101ESPN Radio. A five-course meal was served, leading to the start of the program presentation.
The program was kicked off with an exciting presentation. In 2017, the Pujols Family Foundation premiered a video highlighting two families with children with Down syndrome at O’ Night Divine. This year, it was announced that the video, produced by Coolfire Studios, won a 2018 Emmy Award.
Following the Emmy presentation, the celebrity guests were recognized, this year including: Albert Pujols, Tony LaRussa, Mike Schildt, Mike Shannon, Jim Edmonds, Meghan King Edmonds, Christian Okoye and more. But the best celebrity introduction was saved for last: Pooja Vasishta, a 24 year-old with Down syndrome, was presented with the Watson Family Achievement Award.
This award is presented to one individual with Down syndrome each year, who is an active participant in Pujols Family Foundation programs, has a heart for serving others, and represents the Down syndrome community well. Casey Watson was there to present the award to Pooja, in celebration of her participation and success in the foundation’s Martial Arts program. Pooja is a first-degree black belt, and is currently pursuing her second-degree belt.
Todd Perry, Director/CEO of the Pujols Family Foundation, took the stage, and highlighted some of the foundation’s work both in the Down syndrome community, and in the Dominican Republic. He then introduced a brand new program of the foundation, called Con Gracia. Con Gracia is a sponsorship program of the Dominican Republic, with a focus on serving individuals, families and the community of Batey Aleman.
For 13 years, the Pujols Family Foundation has been serving in Batey Aleman in the Dominican Republic, proving medical and dental care, clean water, new bedding, home and building repairs, and so much more to its people. The new sponsorship program will allow this work to continue, while adding additional programs to support the impoverished people in the Dominican Republic.
After launching this new program, guests were able to hear from the founder of the foundation, Albert Pujols, who expressed his gratitude to guests for supporting the mission of the foundation.
Albert then presented the Partner of the Year Award, given each year to an individual who has shown dedication and support to the mission of the Pujols Family Foundation. This year’s recipient was Dwight Trower, owner of St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy (SLFMAA). Dwight and his staff have for seven years now provided martial arts classes for individuals with Down syndrome. The partnership between SLFMAA and the Pujols Family Foundation has grown over the years, first beginning with a 6-week program. Now, SLFMAA offers weekly classes for about 65 individuals with Down syndrome. Under Dwight’s instruction, 20 of those participants have now earned their black belt (including Watson Family Achievement Award winner, Pooja).
The night ended with a lively auction, featuring a trip to the Dominican Republic, a Justin Timberlake Concert experience package, and more. The most popular item of the night was a limited edition memorabilia package, commemorating Albert Pujols’ 3,000 career hit. In the end, the package raised over $100,000, making it the most successful live auction for the Pujols Family Foundation to date.
Save the date for next year’s O’Night Divine Christmas Celebration: December 7, 2019, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis.
Thank you to our sponsors, supporters and volunteers:
- D.E.A.F. Inc.
- The Isbell Family
- R.H. Crossland Foundation
- The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis
- The Watson Family
- The Hoekzema Family
- Kids Docs
- The Bennett Family
- Broadway Ford Truck Sales
- Cox Automotive
- Dalhousie Golf Club
- Mueller Prost
- New Heart Ministries
- Homer Sedighi, DDS
- Dr. Sarah Smith
- The Snyder Family/Easy Care
- Trey Morris Auctioneering
- American Airlines
- Bravo Italian
- Coolfire Studios
- JED Transportation
- Major Brands
- Momentum Worldwide
- Nothing Bundt Cakes Brentwood
- Rocky Mountain Chocolate
- Capital One
- Bill Greenblatt/UPI Photography
- Katherine Blanner Photography
- Troy Anthony Photography