PANDA luncheon raises $2M for childhood illness


The 18th Annual PANDA Luncheon was hosted at the Phoenician on Saturday, March 25, raising an estimated $2 million in funds for Children’s Autoimmunity and Allergies Project.

PANDA, also known as People Acting Now Discover Answers, has historically raised $9 million since its inception in 1999, according to a press release.

This year’s luncheon sold out a month in advanced with 1,100 guests. Event chairs were Janey Henze Cook and Tammy Ryan, with Board President Jennifer Karas.

The luncheon at the Phoenician, 6000 E. Camelback Road in Scottsdale, featured 55 child models, a live and silent auction and a raffle.

The group’s goal is to unravel the mystery of common autoimmune issues among children — type 1 diabetes, juvenile arthritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, sever food allergies, eosinophilic esophagitis, and celiac disease, the release stated.

Children were in the spotlight at PANDA’s event, with Kate Brink, a seventh grader, singing the opening song, and Saylor Stratton, 2008 patient model gave the invocation.

Letitia Frye was the auctioneer and Jamie Krell was the event emcee introducing all of the children models. Guests enjoyed lunch and watched 55 children strut their stuff on the runway.

The organization was founded by Penny Gunning and Robyn DeBell in 1999 and to date, PANDA has donated $9 million to improve treatments and cures for devastating childhood diseases as well as fund and recruit internationally recognized pediatric physicians and scientists to Arizona, providing local families with the most cutting-edge medical care.

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