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3rd Annual Challenge for Children Winter Benefit a smashing success

Inland Empire United Way and the Hope Reigns Foundation teamed up for the third consecutive year to raise more than 100,000 for critical programs supporting children in low-income families in the Inland Empire. On Thursday evening, January 30th, more than 450 guests gathered at the Citizens Business Bank Arena for the 2014 Challenge for Children Winter Benefit.

Guests were treated to an elegant evening including the smooth jazz sounds of A. Ray Fuller and dinner, followed by entertainment from the Crown City Bombers accompanied by the Crazy Swing Dance Society. However, the focus and highlight of the evening was Cynthia Torrez and her four children, ages 4 to 10 years as they stood on stage following a moving testimony on video. Cynthia chronicled her troubled childhood, having her first child at age 15 years old and eventually ending up on the streets after a year of living in a domestic violence shelter with her four children. But the bright spot in all of it was when she came to live in Ontario, finding herself at the receiving end of a number of resources, one of which was IEUW’s Kids Pack.

Cynthia described the joy in being able to allow her children to eat when they were hungry, even if it was in between meals because “I didn’t have to worry about our food running out.” Every weekend, each child had their very own Kids Pack of food available to them to eat whenever they needed it when free meals at school were not available. “The kids pack food was enough to keep them from being hungry throughout the day on weekends and that was a huge relief to me.”

“One in four children in this region are living in poverty and potentially facing a bleak future,” shared Gregory Bradbard, President & CEO for Inland Empire United Way. “Our goal is to help underprivileged youth to excel in school, graduate and reach future self-sufficiency.” Cynthia is happy to report that she is now working and because of the support of organizations like United Way, has been able to get on her feet and move out of the one room where they had been living into a house along with a family member.

In total, the event generated over $83,000 in net proceeds that will be directed toward programs that help underprivileged youth in the Inland Empire to be healthy, succeed academically and break the cycle of poverty.

As in years past, the event included the entire roster of the Ontario Reign Hockey Team and attracted local leaders from corporate sponsors including: OHL (Presenting Sponsor), ADP, Enterprise, UPS, Wells Fargo, NRG, Econo Door, Ecko Products Group, California Steel Industries, Payden & Rygel, US Bank and many others.

For more information about Inland Empire United Way or the Challenge for Children, visit www.ieuw.org.

For event photos, visit: http://on.fb.me/1gmU388

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