Hosted By The Eddie Guardado Foundation And ACT Today!
Newport Beach, CA – Raising children with autism can be emotionally and financially exhausting on families.  At the inaugural OC Suitcase Soiree, held on Friday, September 20 at the Lyon Air Museum, The Eddie Guardado Foundation and ACT Today! raised over raised over $70,000, which 100% of net proceeds go to help pay for various therapies, safety devices, and provide other support services, as well as iPads and more in order to help families families impacted by autism.

Over 200 guests arrived for the evening, dressed ready to travel and checked in their luggage before they sampled bites from food stations from nearly a dozen of Orange County’s best eateries.  While guests mingled amongst the vintage airplanes and automobiles, they were served cocktails from Ultimat Vodka “flight attendants” with vintage airline drink carts and perused the silent auction items before the excitement of the live auction began, when winners of the weekend getaways would later depart for their trips directly from the party.

The weekend grand prize winners were:  Kerin and Biff Comte, who won a private chartered plane to Las Vegas;  Cookie Lin (Lee) and John Lin, who won a helicopter trip to Santa Barbara; Gail and Scott Dunlop, the Executive Producer and creator of the Real Housewives of Orange County, who won a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce to Beverly Hills for the weekend.

Getting a standing ovation from the crowd was Irvine resident Linda Bertch, who is raising a child with autism along with her three other children alone, after her husband suddenly died last year. The iPad that she received from the Foundation has helped her son communicate with her and allowed him to interact with their other children. After her touching story, party-goers donated over $10,000 to go to directly to supplying iPads to other children in need.  Another highlight was when J Ocana, an ACT Today! Executive Board member, spoke about his family’s journey of raising their son with autism.

Lisa and Eddie Guardado, a former MLB relief pitcher who was recently inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame, co-hosted the event with Katie and Ryan Dunlop.  The event committee included Jo Ashline, William Cernius, Trish Coury, Laura Marroquin, Jennifer and J Ocana, Debbie Redmond, and Michelle Volner.

“We know first-hand what it means to raise a child with autism. Our eight year old daughter, Ava, was diagnosed when she was two,” said Eddie Guardado.  “It is extremely important for Lisa and me to help other families and we are so proud to have been able to help over 300 families so far through our foundation.”

In keeping with the travel theme, guests received a customized luggage tag that was engraved with their name during the party.  A photo booth with travel-themed props and live music by Mark Wood Entertainment as guests danced added to the fun atmosphere.  Participating eateries included: Bluewater Grill, Maggiano’s, Newport Rib Company, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Pacific Club Catering, Sensitive Sweets, Sweet Creations by Judy, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, The Winery, Zov’s Bistro, Addington English ToffeeC and Cookies by Linda Bertch.

Silver Sponsors of the event include: Western National Group. Bronze Sponsors are Sandra and David Stone and Family. In-kind Sponsors include: Reaction Audio Visual, West Coast Air, Ultimat Vodka, Anaheim Helicopters, Matebele Limo.

Take Me Away Opportunity Drawing Trips:
  • First Prize: Private plane to Las Vegas for a fun filled weekend, returning Sunday! Includes 2 nights in a suite at the Aria Hotel, limo service to and from the airport. Dinner for two at Javiers and two tickets to Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana.
  • Second Prize: Private Helicopter to Santa Barbara for a relaxing weekend getaway. Returning Sunday! Trip includes 2 nights at the Bacara in a luxurious room with a fireplace, wine tasting experience and complimentary breakfast.
  • Third Prize: Limo to Los Angeles for a quick getaway, returning Sunday! Includes 2 night stay in a Deluxe Room at Beverly Hills Hotel. Dinner Saturday night and breakfast each day.
Live Auction Highlights:
  • A private plane to beautiful Napa Valley for a weekend of wine tasting. Includes 2 nights at the Meritage Resort, a balloon ride for two, upgraded tasting for two at the Trinitas Cellars and more!
  • VIP backstage at The Today Show, with a Tour of studio and meet and greet with Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker – Can be for 4 to 5 people. You may use this package in conjunction with the Today Show’s Summer Concert Series.
  • Dinner for you and 3 friends with Gretchen and Slade from OC Housewives and show creator Scott Dunlop at Hanna’s Restaurant.
  • Certified Admiral’s Cup Corum Men’s Watch with 18K Rose Gold Titanium Case, 18K Rose Gold and Titanium Bracelet.

About 1 in 88 children in America have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and Orange County in particular has an unusually high prevalence of autism diagnoses, including statistics from 2011 that show we have the highest autism rate in California. Further, recent numbers show that more than 8,600 children in Orange County are being served by Special Education departments in public schools.

Major League All-Star Pitcher, Eddie Guardado and his wife Lisa established The Eddie Guardado Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) in 2008 after their youngest child, Ava, was diagnosed with autism. Lisa and Eddie understand the emotional and financial hardships families impacted with autism experience and founded the Eddie Guardado Foundation to help other families receive access to therapy and treatments that they could not otherwise afford.

In January 2011, The Eddie Guardado Foundation joined forces with ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) by supporting the direct service program at ACT Today!, as both non-profits share the mission of providing awareness of and access to effective therapies for children with autism. Since their partnership began, the Eddie Guardado Foundation has enabled ACT Today! to provide an additional 100 grants to help children with autism achieve their highest potential. Eddie Guardado Foundation, which supports the direct service program of ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!)
The organizations continue to collaborate together with Eddie and Lisa serving on the ACT Today! board. www.eddieguardadofoundation.org

Allison Olmstead – Allison@tomediaco.com or Jane Gillespie – Jane@tomediaco.com