Kyrene Foundation sets signature fundraiser

The emcee for the Kyrene Foundation’s Night for Kyrene is Mathew Blades of Ahwatukee, a mental-wellness speaker and podcast host of “Learn from People who Lived It.” (Special to AFN)

The Kyrene Foundation hosts its Night for Kyrene to raise funds to help the school district’s students and their families, local schools and educators.

Formerly called The Taste of Kyrene, this 10th annual signature fundraiser is slated to be held at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa Sept. 24.

Tickets are still available for the special evening, that includes a plated dinner and dessert, cash bar, live music by Gilbert musician Guillaume Alvin Jefferson, various keynote speakers – including Kyrene School District Superintendent Laura Toenjes – the Silent Auction and Live Ask (online bidding), a fund-a-need feature and a $25 wine pull.

New this year is the Live Ask, an opportunity for those unable to attend the fundraiser to bid on items during the live online auction.

Sponsors, silent auction donors, wine pull donors (minimum value of $25 and up), and reserved table reservations are still accepted.

Among the musical entertainers is Guillaume Alvin Jefferson who will perform during the 6-7 p.m. reception hour.

Guillaume Alvin Jefferson, a Gilbert native and former model, plays jazz, blues and rock and roll throughout the Valley and California.

He said he is honored to be a lead-off musician for the 2022 Night for Kyrene entertainment line-up.

“I support the kids, families and teachers because I know the true concept of legacy, survival and education,” the 31-year old musician and composer said. “And, continuing to give back to the community is my mission to inspire and love one another.”

Former morning radio host and long-time Ahwatukee resident Mathew Blades will emcee the evening as he did in the last Night for Kyrene, held in 2019.

A mental wellness speaker & podcast host of ‘Learn from People who Lived It’ said giving back to the community is what keeps him returning to aid the nonprofit Kyrene Foundation.

“My youngest attends Altadena Middle School and the oldest is at Desert Vista. They’ve been in the Kyrene district their whole learning life which is pretty cool,” said Blades now the new Desert Vista hockey program head coach.

“I do this for the Kyrene Foundation because I want to see people succeed, and I love to offer a hand and some hope to families who feel like life is hard.”

Kyrene Foundation Board member Suzanne Rinker once again serves as Night for Kyrene chair. She chaired the 2019 fundraiser that raised more than $54,000.

A three-year Kyrene Foundation board member, Rinker is no stranger to foundations or fundraising as she is also vice president of enterprise development at the ASU Foundation.

“This is a great night to gather as a community while helping raise funds for a meaningful organization,” she said. “The Kyrene Foundation really does make a difference in the lives of students, their families and educators throughout the district.”

She said among the speakers will be recipients of the teacher mini-grants, just one of the programs that aid Kyrene School District educators.

Kyrene Foundation, in partnership with the Kyrene School District, also offers principal grants, student scholarships for after-school enrichment and athletics, backpacks and other items for students in need.

They also annually provide Thanksgiving Food Baskets, and help sponsor the annual Winter Wonderland.

The Kyrene Family Resource Center, located next to Kyrene de los Niños, is also a recipient of The Kyrene Foundation’s largesse.

“The Kyrene Foundation exists due to the wonderful support of the Kyrene community,” said Kyrene Foundation Board President Shirley Coomer. “We partner with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and community supporters to provide essential assistance to our students and families.”

The signature fundraiser will be held from 6-10 p.m. at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa located off 8000 Arizona Grand Parkway.

For more information on the event or sponsorship opportunities, or to purchase tickets for the 2022 Night For Kyrene see

For those unable to attend the Sept. 24 gala, donations to the foundation and their programs can also be made on the website.

Donors can either email or submit information

Tickets for the event are $95 and tables are $1,250, and there are sponsorships available.

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