Yatooma Event Raises $370,000 For Kids

There were so many heartwarming moments during the Yatooma’s Foundation Champions for the Kids event that it seems guests spent as much time weeping as they did laughing.

Nearly 300 people donned black-tie attire and showed up at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham to support the remarkable evening.

Yatooma’s Foundation for the Kids helps provide guidance, stability and financial assistance for Metro Detroit children who have lost one or both parents. It was founded in 2003 by attorney Norman Yatooma in honor of his father, Manuel Yatooma, who was murdered while the lawyer was in college.
On June 6, the foundation presented its fifth annual Champions event, which included a VIP dinner and auction as well as a golf outing. The dinner began with a cocktail reception and silent auction in a tent outside the Townsend Hotel ballroom.

Guests were then ushered inside for a sit-down dinner that included a duo of petite filet with cherry port glaze and cider-glazed salmon. The program, which was hosted by WJR’s Paul W. Smith, kicked off with a touching introduction of Yatooma by 6-year-old Jamal Newberry, one of the foundation’s kids, who was impeccably outfitted for the evening by Cicchini Custom Clothiers in Birmingham.
Other tender moments included the presentation of the Bridge to the Future Award to 24-year-old Taline Kalandjian, who after losing both parents assumed guardianship of her three younger siblings, and the presentation of the Champions Award, bestowed upon Art Van Elslander for his continued generous support to the foundation throughout the year.

When a toddler named Casi Cook thanked Van Elslander for bringing toys and furniture into her house on Christmas, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Another emotional portion of the program took place when Yatooma delivered a tearful, heartfelt tribute to his friend and major supporter of the foundation, Jeff Feltrin, who died.

Things lightened up with a very exciting live auction, and music from the Simone Vitale Band. Nearly $370,000 was raised from both events.

Chuck Bennett is a Metro Detroit freelance writer and host of Style Minute, which airs twice daily on WGPR-FM (107.5).


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