By Erin Thomas
“The gala was an introduction of the HFI brand to the local community,” said President and Founder of HFI and Haydenfilms LLC, Hayden Craddolph. “We had a great crowd in terms of local residents. We had people from Kutztown, local businesses in attendance—a good cross-section of people. They left knowing we were here.”
Philadelphian actors Bruce Davison, Eugene Byrd and Camillia Monet made special appearances. The guest list also included representatives from local businesses and organizations, friends and family of HFI staff and students from Kutztown University and Kutztown Area High School. Attendees networked and enjoyed a night of catered confections and speeches from featured speakers. Check out some of our photos from the event http://www.flickr.com/photos/haydenfilms.
Guests had the opportunity to enter a drawing to win a 2011 Lexus RX450h AWD vehicle. Proceeds from the tickets went toward HFI and other charities. One guest, Mary Clark, won a trip for two to Hawaii. Other prize winners include Landry Bosworth, Akinwale Ojomo, Barbara Christman and Jim Ludlow.
The event was hosted at the TEK Park Campus, the top-notch technological facility where HFI is headquartered. The building foyer was transformed from business to Hollywood, adorned with a red carpet and media wall. As celebrities strutted down the carpet, students from the KU Electronic Media Program interviewed them for a story with a local focus on film and its impact on education.
Of the different organizations and businesses that attended, one individual made a big impression on Craddolph. Molly Schenkenberger, age 12, and her mother Colleen came to represent the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation specializes in helping children with life-threatening medical conditions make their wishes come true.
“It was really fun,” Schenkenberger said. “I liked that there was a station where you got to get your picture taken.” She chatted with celebrities and posed with them for snapshots on the red carpet. Schenkenberger was also interviewed by the Kutztown Electronic Media team and was able to tell her story while enjoying a bit of the spotlight. Her mother, Colleen Schenkenberger, said, “She and I had no idea what to expect. Hayden and everyone else made her feel like a million bucks that night, which as a mother meant the world to me.”
Craddolph said, “I saw how important it was for someone’s dream to come true. It was a convergence of two dreams coming true at the same time.”
Hosted in December, the gala also amplified the holiday spirit of giving. One-thousand toys were donated for the event and made available for $10. At the close of the event, marines representing the Toys for Tots Foundation accepted donations of the purchased toys. Toys for Tots is a nonprofit organization that collects new, unwrapped toys during the holiday season and gives them to needy children.
HFI hopes to host another gala in the future. Throughout 2011, staff at HFI plan on recruiting new board members and working on additions to the 2012 Online Film Festival with Haydenfilms LLC. The HFI team also looks forward to launching educational programs in 2012.