The 110th Anniversary Charity Ball.
The Charity Ball is one of our region’s grand expressions of commitment to the children of San Diego. For more than a century, the volunteer-organized Charity Ball has brought together community leaders and supporters for a night of elegance and entertainment. It is one special evening each year, but the night has long-lasting impact on the children of our region.
In 1909, the first Charity Ball was held at the Hotel Robinson in downtown San Diego. For a time, the event moved to the U.S. Grant Hotel and since 1912, all Charity Balls with the exception of 1922, have been held at the Hotel del Coronado. The Ball took a decade-long hiatus during the Depression and World War II, but returned with renewed vigor in 1946. The Charity Ball has always supported children’s health and since 1953, has exclusively benefited Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego. Over the years, net proceeds have increased significantly, raising millions of dollars for facilities, programs and services, and top excellence in patient care.
The guiding light of each Ball has been the Charity Ball Chairman. The inaugural Charity Ball in 1909 was steered by Lena Sefton Wakefield, a vibrant and formidable woman who helped guide San Diego for more than 40 years. Proceeds from that first Ball were $1,570 and supported the infirmary at the San Diego Children’s Home. Lena’s mother, Harriet Lyle Sefton had been the infirmary’s original benefactor. The early Charity Balls provided seed money for what would eventually become the internationally recognized Children’s Hospital founded in 1954, renamed Rady Children’s Hospital in recognition of a transformational investment made by Ernest and Evelyn Rady in 2006. Other dynamic women would follow in Lena’s footsteps carrying the philanthropic torch of the Charity Ball comprising an impressive ledger of Who’s Who of San Diego. The Sefton family thread included Harriett Hollida Sefton-Campbell, Chairman in 1911-15 and 1918-19; Helen Wolcott Thomas Sefton, 1920; and with amazing dedication, Lena Sefton Wakefield Clark once again took the helm in 1946. Other recognized names include Mabel Phillips Jessop in 1953 and Jean Utt Frazee in 1967. The Charity Ball’s history is rich with a legacy of generous, influential families who have been the fabric of San Diego business and philanthropy.
The 110th Anniversary Charity Ball, Glitter in the Air, honors each of the inspirational Charity Ball Chairmen whose dedication and purpose have lifted up the lives of so many families. Through their insight, empathy, and altruism, these remarkable women have kept the beautiful spirit and significance of the Charity Ball aloft for 110 years.
The Charity Ball has been a vital part of Rady Children’s Hospital since its establishment in 1954 as the only pediatric hospital in the area. This year, the Charity Ball is committed to fast-tracking Rady Children’s mission to provide a safe, universal starting point for every child and family in the midst of a mental health crisis. The Copley Psychiatric Emergency Department is one of the first departments of its kind, which is positioned to provide patients with an immediate psychiatric diagnosis and will triage patients toward affiliated mental and behavioral health services and therapists. Experts will have every resource available to treat the whole child - body and mind.
For more than a century, the Charity Ball has made, and will continue to make, miracles possible for San Diego’s children and their families.