Positive energy sizzled through the air as men and women of all ages attended the First Annual Masquerade for Medicine at Hotel Albuquerque Saturday night.
The masquerade was a 21-and-over fundraiser. Proceeds benefitted One Hope Centro de Vida Health Center and Albuquerque Opportunity Center Clinic.
VIP tickets included a session beginning at 7 p.m. with hor d’oeuvres, live music, guest speakers and live artist Erin Vega working on a painting.
Co-president of the Physician Assistant Student Society and University of New Mexico student Maia Brown worked with another UNM student Ashlee Smalley to organize the event. The two members of the class of 2019 conceived of and began putting together the fundraiser in August 2017, they said.
“I feel really proud and humbled by the way the community has come together to be here and really support the local organizations for (giving) quality healthcare to underserved individuals in Albuquerque,” Brown said of the event. “It’s really exciting how much people care. It’s the power of community.”
Smalley echoed this sentiment, adding, “We knew we wanted to do something that, for one, could make an impact, because classes in front of us had done other fundraisers, and they’ve been able to raise money. We just really wanted to find something that really spoke to us.”
Guests filled the Casa Esencia of Hotel Albuquerque, with gentlemen donning formal suits and ladies in a variety of dresses and formal wear.
Faculty/Lecturer and Outreach Coordinator of the UNM PA Program Lindsey Fox proceeded to introduce guest speakers before the crowd.
One guest was Chief Executive Officer Dennis Plummer of Heading Home.
“‘Tell me what’s going on?’ Those five words are often a bridge to somebody reconnecting with the community, and those five words are delivered by UNM students who are eager, service-oriented and that reaches volumes across the chasm for an individual who’s been ostracized by society, who’s had challenges, who’s been told, ‘No,’ time and time again. So I’m deeply honored to be apart of this amazing collaboration over many years and to see students who are eager to learn about social determinants of health, not to just integrate to move on to get the next job that pays a lot of money,” Plummer said to the audience.
Other speakers who echoed Plummer’s words included: One Hope Clinic’s Interim Executive Director Blanca Pedigo, the clinic’s Executive Director John Bulten, as well as Assistant Dean for External Programs at UNM Michel Disco.
The masquerade continued with a silent auction, which included Vega’s artwork.
“I am doing my painting live, bringing my surrounding elements to a canvas and giving this beautiful energy color,” Vega said. “I’m simply doing what I can to help with such a beautiful event.”
General admission ticket holders arrived at the event at 9 p.m. and were greeted with music, courtesy of a DJ, along with alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and masquerade masks.
Attendees were able to donate in a variety of ways, such as bidding at the silent auction, purchasing masquerade masks or donating to a variety of the donation jars.
As the night progressed, the dance floor filled. Items for the silent auction began increasing, as guests emptied their pockets and hearts to charity.
Giuseppe DeMartino auctioned two tickets to the upcoming “The Book of Mormon” show at Popejoy Hall.
“I know it’s a great cause,” DeMartino said. “My girlfriend (Briana Chacon), she’s been on the phone every night getting people to come. I think she sold as many of the tickets as anybody. She’s one of the ones in PA school, and she’s been very adamant about sticking with the underserved community.”
The Masquerade for Medicine concluded at midnight. The fundraiser exceeded the expectation in donations from ticket sales and auction items than either organizer expected, Smalley said.
Nichole Harwood is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.