LAKEWOOD RANCH -- For the second consecutive year, Lakewood Ranch couple Patrick and Holly Wright will host an event to raise awareness and help families dealing with pediatric cancer.
The Payton Wright Foundation Gala will be held on at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota on Sept. 29.
Last year, the event profited roughly $85,000 and the Wrights are hoping to exceed $100,000 this year.
The funds are used to help families by paying bills and
expenses. The Wrights founded the foundation after their daughter Payton was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer at age 4. On May 29, 2007, 5-year-old Payton lost her fight against the disease.
"Most of the funds we give away are directly to families to financially support them while they take care of their child with pediatric brain cancer so they can worry about getting their kids to treatment and not worry about bills that stack up," said Patrick Wright,
Michael Israel, who is internationally known for his unique style of painting, will be featured this year as he was last. Israel makes his brush strokes on a moving canvas, while leaping to high-energy music. Last year, his paintings were auctioned during the benefit, raising $45,000 for the foundation.
"I think it's a great thing they're doing," Israel said. "I can't comprehend being a parent in their situation and helping other parents."
One of his paintings was of Payton Wright and a frog. A frog was Payton's symbol of strength.
This year, Israel will create five or six paintings that will be sold during a live auction. Israel's paintings normally start at $9,500 and have sold for as much as $250,000, but will be priced lower for the charity event.
All proceeds will go toward the Payton Wright Foundation.
"It's very much like a live concert," Wright said. "It had such a big response that people wanted us to bring him back for the people they were bringing this year."
"The purpose has to be kept in the forefront," Israel said. "It's a perfect opportunity to become acquainted with the charity and people that have been supporting it."
Israel, whose studio is located in Boca Raton, has performed for over 100 charities worldwide.
The gala will also feature a presentation profiling some of the families the foundation has helped. Savanna Wright, the Wrights' oldest daughter, will sing with Sarasota recording artist Schascle "Twinkle" Yochim. One of the songs is dedicated to Payton.
The annual Payton Wright Foundation Golf Tournament has raised thousands and the Wrights are also teaming with Lakewood Ranch Medical Center to design the playroom in the new pediatric unit.
The playroom will be named after Payton.
Tickets are still available for the event. General admission is $200 and VIP tickets are $300.
The event will begin with a VIP cocktail reception with Israel at 5:30 p.m.
Dinner begins at 7 p.m., followed by Israel's performance.
For more information on the event, visit www.paytonwright.org or call 941-893-7007.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams