Colby & Cate’s Charities Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization based in central Indiana.
Run exclusively by volunteers, OUR MISSION is to improve the quality of life of children by raising and donating funds and other items to organizations serving chronically ill and critically injured children.
But what is Colby & Cate’s Charities, Inc. all about?
In August of 2002, our son, Colby Lutz, upon turning just 1 year old (unknowingly) held his first benefit/fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children in lieu of a traditional birthday party.
We invited about 50 of our closest friends, family members and neighbors. All guests were asked that in lieu of a birthday gift for Colby that either toys, books (or other items on the Riley Wish List) or a monetary donation to Riley Hospital be made. The event was a smashing success. It took 2 SUV’s to haul the incalculable amount of toys to the hospital.
In August of 2004, Colby’s 1 year old sister Cate (their birthdays are 1 day apart) joined the fray. The event now became Colby & Cate’s Annual Birthday Bash: A Benefit for Riley Hospital for Children. In August 2005, after seeing the success of the unique benefit first hand, McAlister’s Deli graciously joined us as (and remains to this day) one of the primary sponsors of the annual benefit for Riley Hospital – all at their expense.
For our 3rd year, the event grew to roughly 150 people (including children) and the estimated proceeds for the kids at Riley Hospital neared $2500. WOW!
By 2006, the event and annually changing themes grew even larger. To support the ’06 Star Wars theme, Darth Vader, a dozen storm troopers and several additional Star Wars characters appeared in full and authentic Star Wars Garb to mingle with the guests and provide photo opportunities. Tee shirts commemorating the theme and event were also brought into play for the first time as a special “thank you”….and to create awareness for the kids at Riley year round.
In addition to a mid-to-late afternoon carnival-like experience for kids including bounce houses, games, contests, face painting, live children’s music and more, an “after-the-benefit, benefit” for adults only took place for the first time. Featuring live music, a staffed and open bar, dinner and dancing ‘til 2.A.M, the benefit certainly took on a new dynamic. This new dynamic allowed us to experience something we had not experienced since the first “intimate” event in 2002. It was estimated that the value of all gifts and monetary donations (all of which go to Riley) EXCEEDED the sum of monies my wife and I spent hosting the benefit. It was estimated that between the gifts and monetary donations that approximately $4500 was raised for Riley Hospital for Children at the 2006 event.
In 2007, nearly 350 invitations went out the door. In an attempt to increase the “booty” for the Riley kids (Pirates of the Caribbean theme in ’07) we added a “suggested minimum donation” to the invitation AND we held our first ever auction during the event that was now dubbed the “after party”.
These two decisions proved HUGELY SUCCESSFUL as with nearly $8,000 in monetary donations plus loads of toys, crafts and other gifts our estimated net in one day was $10,000 for Riley Hospital for Children – all in honor of the birthdays of our then 4 and 6 year old!
With 2008 being the year of the Olympics, an Olympic theme was a natural fit. An Olympic stadium was created on the lot adjacent to our home, an Olympic village was created for the young athletes and their families and the streets were even closed not only for the opening ceremonies (Olympic torch and all), but also for the “mini-marathon” which ran down to the community pool and back. In 2008, we held a silent auction during the day time festivities “opening ceremonies” and a live auction during the closing ceremonies (the “after the benefit” benefit), which this time featured a professional DJ, not to mention all of the other annual traditions.
In 2008, Colby and Cate brought home the GOLD for the kids at Riley raising over $18,300 in cash plus another truck-load
of toys and materials for many arts and crafts. Total estimate for 2008 was over $20,000.
2009 (our 7th year) was another special year. This year, we enlisted the help of the soon-to-be SUPER BOWL bound, Indianapolis Colts. Several Colts players and 2 Colts cheerleaders attended, played with the kids, taught football moves and cheers and naturally signed autographs for all who attended. The attendance was an all time high (estimated 550-600) and of course, the results were an all time high – with our “little back yard” event raising $33,157 in monetary donations AND a van full of toys, crafts and other items.
In 2010, due to the overwhelming success of 2009 and the equally overwhelming support of the Colts players who attended, we repeated the Colts theme. 8 Colts, 2 cheerleaders and even Miss Indiana USA joined nearly 800 of our closest friends in our endeavor to improve the quality of life for the young kids at Riley! We scored to tune of $45,200 and change! 2010, was also a very special year for our family, as our efforts were recognized by the folks at Riley Foundation, who dedicated a room at the new Simon Family Tower in our children’s names.
In 2011, it wasn’t broke, so we didn’t fix it! We once again stuck with a winner – the Indianapolis Colts and NFL theme. We had a dozen current Colts and NFL alumni including Pro-Bowlers and Super Bowl Champions. We also had Miss Indiana and Miss Indiana Outstanding Teen join us. New elements were added to keep the kids busy, the auction was larger than life and we raised a tad bit under $50,000!
2012 was a very special year as we were joined by the Indiana Pacers. Further, not only did we raise a record amount of nearly $65,000 for Riley, but we also received recognition by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c) (3) non profit charitable organization. This designation will allow us to grow our charitable efforts beyond hosting just one event per year.
Colby & Cate’s Charities, Inc. will continue to focus on organizations that provide care and support to chronically ill or critically injured children.
As for the rest of Colby & Cate’s story, well, time will tell. But we are quite optimistic as we plan to grow Colby & Cate’s Charities all with the mission to improve the lives of children in Indiana. We hope you’ll join us!
The Lutz Family
Matt, Amy, Colby & Cate.
How the Money Will Be Used
In 2016, the Board Grant was for $7,500.
Life lessons can be fun especially when you’re helping others. Colby & Cate’s 13th Annual Birthday Bash, held last summer, was another success in raising almost $60,000 for Riley Children’s Foundation & Camp Riley. Years ago, Colby & Cate celebrated their 1st birthday with donations made to Riley rather than receiving presents and the “event” has grown exponentially. Thanks Mom & Dad!