I had the opportunity to attend the Adaline Coffman Guild’s annual December event this year. Last Friday’s event was dubbed “A Night Out for Good” and was hosted this year at the LOFT in downtown Chehalis.

If you aren’t familiar with the Adaline Coffman Guild, the ACG raises funds for uncompensated medical care for children of Lewis County, WA at Seattle Children’s Hospital. While you can donate year-round to their organization online, the group is well-known for their “FUNdraising” events (as they call them).

“The Adaline Coffman Guild was organized by and named after a gracious lady who, throughout her lifetime, gave of herself to the betterment of her family, her church and her community,” according to the group’s website. The ACG was established in 1940. 

The guild has raised more than $500,000 since its inception nearly 80 years ago.

Traditionally, the ACG’s December event is a black-tie gala style event. This year, the Guild decided to relax the traditional event with fancier “date night” attire and bring in live entertainment. That’s how I ended up at the event myself — I performed on stage with Prohibition Band that night.

Like at many local auction events that I’ve attended, the Guild’s auction items did not disappoint. They had great baskets and various experiences up for bid with all proceeds going to the uncompensated care fund. Many community members gave generously during the “raise your paddle” portion of the auction. Dinner catered by the LOFT was excellent.

But what really set this event apart was the guest speaker.

This year’s guest of honor and featured speaker was 16-year-old Elena Schefer, alongside her mom. Elena was born with Goldenhar syndrome, a rare condition that altered the development of her face and spine.

“For me, the left side of my jaw was almost non-existent, and my left ear was not fully formed and had no ear canal. I also have some fused vertebrae, I’m partially deaf and I’m legally blind in one eye. I’ve had more than 20 surgeries so far with more to come,” Elena said as she elaborated on her condition and its challenges for the crowd of nearly 200 people.

Elena’s mother explained that, even with 90 percent insurance coverage, the family was billed $100,000 for Elena’s first month of life.

Elena spoke authentically and eloquently about the obstacles that she’s had to overcome and how the craniofacial team at Seattle Children’s Hospital was integral to her quality of life and management of her unique presentation of Goldenhar syndrome.

Elena was a wonderful example of a real person who had directly experienced tangible relief from the very organization that funds were being raised for that night. Hearing such a very human, relatable, personable story was very moving.

According to event organizers, this was the most successful December event the Guild has ever had. Knowing the funds raised will be going towards helping more kids in Lewis County, like Elena, was a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit early this year.

You can attend next year’s Adaline Coffman Guild holiday gala event at the LOFT on Friday, December 11, 2020 — mark your calendars now. Or, watch for details on the ACG “Bike n’ Brew” event this summer.

You can also become a dues-paying member of the Adaline Coffman Guild to support local uncompensated medical care in for Lewis County kids all year-round as well. Learn more about that by visiting adalinecoffman.org.

•••

Brittany Voie is a columnist for The Chronicle. She lives south of Chehalis with her husband and two young sons. She welcomes correspondence from the community at voiedevelopment@comcast.net.

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