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Backyard Party Benefits Child Life Program

What began as a summer cookout to support a local family has turned into five autumn events that have raised a total of $74,315 for the Child Life program at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

“My wife, Lea, was a volunteer for Child Life for years,” said Tom Cunningham. “It has a special place in her heart.”

In 2012, the Cunninghams hosted their first Backyard Benefit at their West End home with 50 friends and collected $8,500 from donations and a silent auction. This year’s benefit was held Sept. 23 under tents outside of Froehling & Robertson’s warehouse, where the party moved in 2016. Approximately 200 friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors enjoyed music from The Honky Tonk Experience, two food trucks, drinks and a silent auction with vacation get-aways, autographed sports items, gift cards to local businesses and more. More than $18,300 was raised from donations, sponsors and the silent auction.

“Each year more and more people ask what they can do to help,” said Tom. “We really appreciate the support of Bob and Jen Hill for helping so much with planning, donating and collecting auction and raffle items. We also want to thank Sam Proctor with Froehling & Robertson as well as our many sponsors and silent auction donors.”

Tom and Lea are already planning next year’s event for Sept. 29, which will include a repeat performance from The Honky Tonk Experience.

“It seems to get bigger and better every year,” Tom said.