Saddle up for an ASU student-run fundraising event Boots and Belles

The barn-dance-themed charity event will raise money to send children with incarcerated parents to a summer camp

Kick up your boots and boogie for ASU’s student-run fundraising event, Boots and Belles

The Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions' special events management class has spent the entire semester planning a fundraising event to help kids with incarcerated parents attend a therapeutic camp through the Angel Tree and AZ Camp 180 program.  

The graduate service assistant teaching the class, Virginia Coco, said she has taught this class for three years and worked with students on past events at the Phoenix Zoo, as well as a Phoenix electric light parade for Christmas.

“One aspect of the class has been for each student to create a dream event throughout the semester, but this semester I thought it would be a great experience for students to actually plan and execute an event in real life,” Coco said. 

The Boots and Belles Fundraiser is sponsoring children to go to AZ Camp 180, where kids are given one-on-one time to develop, learn and grow by using a form of animal therapy involving horses. The camp's focus is to give kids a life-changing experience where they are able to have fun and build relationships, Coco said.

The event will be held at the South Mountain Park Activity Complex on April 20 from 3-6 p.m. and will feature activities such as line dancing lessons, a raffle, photobooth and Western-themed games. 

Tickets are $30 per person. The event will also provide food options including a potluck sampler provided by students. 

In order to efficiently organize the event, students are divided into committees and given specific jobs to fulfill throughout the semester, Coco said.

“Each student who takes this class needs to be able to work independently and very hands-on if the event is going to be successful,” Coco said. “You have to keep an open mind and be able to change the plan according to the level of success at each stage of the event plan.”

Alyssa Prothro, a student in Coco's class and junior majoring in travel and tourism, is on the host and planning committee where she is responsible for ticket sales and collecting sponsorships.

Prothro said taking this class has been a new experience filled with ups and downs. 

“Having to do a fundraiser with a group of college students without any prior experience has been a fun rollercoaster of emotions and it’s definitely taught me to take each day as its own and just enjoy the process,” she said. 

The Boots and Belles fundraising event aims to raise at least $5,000 to send 10-15 kids to AZ Camp 180, Coco said. 

As the event date approaches, Coco said her class is determined to reach its goal despite challenges and will continue to put forth the best effort possible. 

“The biggest challenge is getting students on the same page and making them understand that best effort is more important than outcome because all we can do is our best,” Coco said.

Another student in the special events management class, Hannah Seastres, a sophomore majoring in nursing, is in charge of the planning committee, a position that entails tasks like recruiting volunteers and selling tickets. 

Seastres said the class is different from anything she has ever taken, but it has been a learning experience.

“The most rewarding thing is knowing that this is an event that will benefit actual people and we're making a real impact,” she said. “That's pretty empowering for students who haven't even graduated yet.”


Reach the reporter at adehave1@asu.edu and follow @adehave1 on Twitter. 

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