The Parish School Blog

The Parish School Raises More Than $600,000 With “Big Birthday Bash” Gala

Written by Amanda Arnold
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The Parish School smashes school fundraising goals with “Big Birthday Bash” gala. Chaired by Adonia and Kevin Cokinos, Ann Marie and Chris Kolkhorst, and Alice and Keith Mosing, the gala is The Parish School’s largest event of the year and raises much-needed funding for the school and financial assistance for families.

This year’s event celebrated the special needs school’s 35th anniversary and honors the vision of the late Robbin Parish, founder.

stiltwalker at Big Birthday BashHeld at the JW Marriott Houston, the gala opened to a sold-out crowd of 480 guests, who were delighted by sleight-of-hand magician, Jamie Salinas, and the stilt-walking acts of J&D Entertainment. However, guests were sure to keep eyes on the silent auction, which was filled with luxurious vacation packages, and hard to come by experiences, like being a radio show guest, or a bat boy/bat girl for the Rice Owls baseball team.

Emcee for the night, Roula Christie, of 104 KRBE’s “Roula and Ryan Show,” launched in to the lively program, which included a performance from Parish School students, Carl Janssen and Jonathan Wallace, of R. Kelly’s “I Believe,” and garnered a standing ovation. In celebration of the school’s 35th birthday, a short video featuring Robbin Parish and many long-time faculty members showed guests how the school has evolved over the decades. Additionally, the bidding was fast and furious during the live auction that featured a private dinner at the home of Randi and Johnny Carrabba, as well as a rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-year-old bourbon.

Over the past 25 years, The Parish School gala has honored groups or individuals with the Golden Oak Award, presented to those who exemplify the values of the school. This year’s gala celebrated all Golden Oak Honorees from 1992-present. Among the honorees in attendance were: former Major League Baseball infielder, coach, scout and manager (and Parish grandparent), Art Howe (2017); broadcast journalist and Parish School alumnus, John-Thomas Kobos (2014); Director at Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Dr. Susan H. Landry (2010); Developmental Pediatrician and Professor at Children’s Learning Institute, Dr. Danny Williamson (2007); and Director of The Carruth Foundation, Brady Carruth (2000).

The highlight of the evening, however, were the parent testimonials from gala chairs, Kevin Cokinos and Chris Kolkhorst. Each shared their journey to The Parish School and how a Parish education has made a difference in their child’s life.

“The Parish School has helped Coy find his voice,” said Chris. “You have made him feel significant. Most importantly, you have given him a future, and for that, we are forever grateful.”

Like Coy, Katina Cokinos was born premature – seven weeks to be exact. At 6 days young, doctors discovered she had poor circulation to her lower body and needed a procedure to balloon her aortic valve and arch. The procedure was successful, although she would continue to live with leakage in the aortic valve. Katina was later diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Kabuki Syndrome and has delayed development. Parents Adonia and Kevin looked for a school that could help Katina overcome her delays. They selected The Parish School, because not only would Katina benefit from group speech therapy, but onsite occupational therapy is available as well.

“Within the first month, she went from 1-2 word sentences to conversations we can’t shut-up,” said Kevin. “And we won’t…because we remember the beginning of this journey.”

Overall, guests left inspired to give at record-breaking amounts, with the event grossing more than $600,000 for The Parish School.

About The Parish School:  Since 1983, The Parish School has educated children ages 2-12 who have communication delays and learning differences, empowering them with the tools to succeed. This nationally recognized, special needs school in Houston provides an education for the entire family within the environment of a nurturing and safe 17-acre campus with onsite pediatric therapy clinic, The Carruth Center. Our personalized academic approach – with a focus on communication skills, social learning, nature, independence and the arts – allows children not just to grow, but to thrive.

Kevin Cokinos speaks at The Parish School's Big Birthday Bash gala