Looking good in blue jeans comes easy for Cat Sims and Lavonne Wood. The two locals are donning their denim and throwing it back a few decades to co-chair the second annual Blue Jeans and Bubbles event to support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas (RMHCA).
With unlimited bubbly on deck, the '90s-themed occasion is the perfect fit for those looking to put on their best vintage Levis and enjoy live entertainment. But the evening's goal is much bigger: to provide 4,000 nights for families needing a home away from home while a child recovers from illness or injury in the hospital.
Soirée caught up with Wood and Sims ahead of the Oct. 20 bash to chat about their roots with the nonprofit, event details and more ways to support RMHCA.
What can attendees expect at this year’s Blue Jeans and Bubbles?
LW: A good time for a good cause, so much fun and amazing activities. We'll have [music from] the Rodney Block Collective, 360-degree photo booths, a VIP lounge with specialty cocktails, delicious food and a phenomenal raffle.
What is the goal of Blue Jeans and Bubbles?
LW: To bring our community together and inspire a younger and more diverse philanthropic crowd. Many people want to help, but don’t know where to start, so this event brings awareness to RMHCA with a fun, casual street fair.
CS: We hope this will be a great introductory event for those who have not previously been involved in charitable giving. We want to make it less intimidating in hopes that participants will continue fundraising for RMHCA and with many local charities in our area.
What’s special about this year’s event?
CS: The '90s [theme] is really going to spice things up this year. It gives vendors and participants room to get creative and have fun with their fashion choices.
What are you most looking forward to at the event?
LW: I’m looking forward to meeting more people who are there to support RMHCA and connect with future philanthropists. Also the champagne and my '90s-inspired outfit, makeup and hair.
CS: I am looking forward to having a great time with other like-minded individuals looking to both give back and have some fun. I love that we are having it in Argenta Plaza. Living near the area, I am always excited for this side of town to garner more attention.
How did you get involved with RMHCA?
LW: The special events manager reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in co-chairing. This is my first charity event in this capacity, so I was excited to come on board. I specialize in social media, so I was eager to help garner awareness by helping to create a '90s-themed Instagram campaign.
CS: I have been a member of the Red Shoe Crew and was more closely involved with the charity through the Miss Arkansas organization. I was lucky enough to take a tour of the house during my time judging the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen pageant.
Why should people support RMHCA?
LW: They go above and beyond to make their families comfortable. It is the most comfortable place you would want to be while dealing with a crisis. Having a child that needs long- or short-term hospitalization is traumatic, so having your basic needs met — like food, shelter and being close to your child — is a true blessing that helps alleviate some of the stress.
CS: At the end of the day, this charity is one of the most supportive charities for children and families in the U.S. I think we can all agree that raising money to help our newest generations is always worth our time and support.
Where does your passion for RMHCA and Blue Jeans and Bubbles come from?
LW: My father-in-law was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia a month before I got engaged, and he needed a bone marrow transplant. My husband was his only match, and was able to donate stem cells. Once he was released from the hospital, he needed a place to stay that was no more than 15 minutes from the hospital. We both lived too far. Because of programs like RMHCA, we found him free lodging across the street from UAMS for three months. He’s now in remission.
CS: My husband is a head and neck cancer surgeon at CARTI. I have seen firsthand how much it means to patients to have care and support when coming to Little Rock for medical care when they often are not from this area. Being in a new area and putting trust in strangers for your child’s medical health has got to be scary. Having a place that feels like home surrounded by people who understand what you are going through is priceless.
What are some other ways people can get involved with RMHCA?
LW: They can be a sponsor for Blue Jeans and Bubbles, buy tickets to the event, make monetary donations, follow their Instagram account and drop off products and supplies that are needed at their location.
CS: In addition to fiscal giving, there are a lot of volunteer opportunities for RMHCA and opportunities for donations of goods and services.