Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO –  The Children’s Advocacy Center’s Valentine’s Day Fundraiser theme--Champagne and Diamonds, high-lighted three diamond honorees, a CASA guest speaker’s story on her relationship with a court-appointed child and culminated with someone winning a $5,000 one-carat diamond that was placed in a glass of champagne.

Left-to-right: Betty White, Mrs. Clarisa Darby and U.S. Rep. Drew Darby

CAC, Executive Director, Heather Ward, announced an individual, Betty White, and a couple, U.S. Rep. Drew Darby and his wife, Clarisa, as diamond honorees at Wednesday evening’s 17th annual, Champagne and Diamonds gala event which was held at the Cactus Hotel from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

White, a CAC board member was awarded an engraved, crystal-shaped diamond paperweight for her significant service to the organization.

The second diamond honoree recipient were the Darby. “Clarisa has helped us with our fundraising ideas for our campaign for children,” said Ward.

The winner of the $5,000 Legend Jewelers diamond, was Donna Stinnett who was with her husband, David. 

This painting done by a CASA child, named Zac, sold for $2,500 at a live auction before the conclusion of the CAC's gala event.

Ward remembers when Darby stopped by the organization’s office and made some very strong recommendations to her on how the San Angelo community needed to change things to better protect children and strengthen the family, “I have worked in child welfare for 15 years and I had never seen a local system turn on a dime like I did prior to that day.”  

Upon being recognized, Mrs. Darby stated “Thank you for being advocates and for changing what is, into what should be.” 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart and thank you from the heart of the state of Texas for what you (CAC) do for the children of Texas,” said Darby.

The guest speaker, Lori Dietrich, a 30-year Court Appointed Special Advocate, shared her story about Jóse who lived with his father and step-mother, until the age of seven when they got divorced. When Jóse was forced to go on a drug run with his father who worked for the drug cartel, he ended up being placed in a foster home here in January 2013. 

Dietrich was assigned to Jóse when he was fourteen-years-old. Since being in the CASA program, Lori gave Jóse a cake for his 15th birthday, he was certified as a nurse’s assistant; and with assistance from CPS, he received his high school class ring. “When I delivered it to him, he was overjoyed,” said Dietrich, which he proudly wears every day. 

When it came time for Jóse to graduate, Lori got him a cap and gown. Despite all the obstacles, Jóse never lost sight of his goals and persevered. Lori concluded her speech, saying Jóse is currently in his second semester and attending a community college in San Antonio.

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