Arkansas Children's Hospital Auxillary's annual Arkansas à la Carte event is right around the corner. 

Come hungry and ready for a night that includes tastings from more than 20 of your favorite local restaurants and caterers. Along with a notoriously delicious menu, this year's event sees the return of Art à la Carte, an auction designed to compliment ACH's continual work of incorporating and encouraging creativity into the lives of its patients.

Ahead of the event on March 12, we chatted with Arkansas à la Carte committee member Ashley Parker about what guests can expect, this year's Palm Beach theme and what drew her to the cause. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

Ashley Parker: I am a Little Rock native. I graduated high school from Pulaski Academy and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a degree in marketing management. I met my husband Jason the spring semester of our freshman year and we married in July 2001. We have two boys, Drew (15) a freshman at Catholic High School for Boys, and Will (11) in fifth grade at Chenal Elementary. I currently work for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals as a diabetes sales specialist.

What inspired you to get involved with Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary? How long have you volunteered? 

AP: Right out of college my husband got involved in Arkansas Childrens Committee for the Future. We both volunteered on the golf tournament committee for years. Then in January 2018, I was asked to co-chair the inaugural Race for a Healthier Tomorrow with Angie Johnson. We both had volunteered for a few other nonprofits but were taking a break to focus on our childrens schools. We listened to the vision for this new event and thought chairing an event from the ground up would be challenging, but also rewarding.

We both had a tie to the hospital because our children were patients of ACH. Angie and I asked if we could talk with our families about leading the event before we made a decision. Over the weekend I received a call from my sister in northwest Arkansas and my niece who was 9 at the time was in the ER and had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. ACH Northwest wasnt due to open for a few more weeks, so they had to fly her to Little Rock. It was at 4 a.m. in the hospital room at ACH that I realized that I needed to focus my time and energy to an organization that helped keep my niece alive.

It’s a very easy mission to get behind, but what do you love about this organization?

AP: This auxiliary is made up of over 550 women with all different backgrounds. There is a place for everyone to get involved. The mission of ACH is to champion children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow and the auxiliary helps support this mission through many fundraising efforts such as a la Carte, Miracle Ball, Race for a Healthier Tomorrow, the Playaway Gift Shop, ACHiever Program and holiday cards featuring artwork by Arkansas Childrens patients. Last year, the auxiliary was able to give $1.54 million back to the hospital, which was the largest gift in the auxiliarys 52-year history. 

Tell me about Arkansas a la Carte. How would you describe it for someone who’s never been?

AP: This is my favorite spring fundraiser. I would say bring your appetite! You will be able to taste all different types of food from over 20 restaurants and caterers in central Arkansas. There will be music and drinks and, most importantly, a silent auction. This is a great event to catch up with friends, get a taste of Arkansas and support a great cause. 

This year’s theme is “Palm Beach.” What can you tell me about how you’ll tie the theme in throughout the night?

AP: This year, we want the guests of a la Carte to enjoy a little piece of paradise as we live for the moment and "squeeze the day." Our decoration committee chose a decor that is Palm Beach-inspired with some citrus flair. We aspire to provide a colorful ambiance of palm leaves and paradise as we join together in celebration of living life to the fullest!

Without giving too much away, what parts of the event are you most excited about?

AP: We have partnered with over 20 restaurants and caterers in central Arkansas. They will be providing a taste of their signature dishes. The silent auction is going to be fantastic this year. My auction committee has worked hard to secure a weekend trip to Nashville, a golf cart, Zac Brown concert tickets, parties, jewelry and artwork by local artists and Arkansas Childrens patients. There is truly something for everyone. 

 

For more about the event or to purchase tickets, head to the Arkansas Children's Hospital website

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