Annie Lindgren | North Forty News

December 1 was Realities for Children’s 24th annual NightLights event. This warmer-than-average year had over five hundred attendees showing their support to the cause, enjoying the music and festivities, and joining the countdown to the lighting of the tree. 

 Local talent Emma Marie shares holiday music and sings the NightLights Song, pictured here with Santa. Photo by Craig Vollmer Photography.

The Big Blue NightLights Tree, located at First Presbyterian Church, corner of College Avenue and Mulberry Street, in Fort Collins, brings awareness to the issues of child abuse and neglect, letting thousands of Larimer County children impacted by these acts of darkness know that they are not alone. The tree of over 20,000 lights is blue to represent the international color for child abuse prevention and awareness. Community members – individuals, families, and businesses – are encouraged to sponsor a light, which will provide emergency services to children that have been abused or neglected in Larimer County through its 39 partner agencies. 

 Dude Dad presents the 33lb Chocolate Santa to the lucky winners of the drawing. Photo by Craig Vollmer Photography.

23 of the 39 partner youth agencies participate in the event, giving attendees opportunities to learn more about the services available through these nonprofit agencies. A complete list of the partner agencies is at RealitiesForChildren.com.

 Nonprofit Partners share information about the services their organizations provide to abused and neglected children. Photo by Craig Vollmer Photography.

“Funds raised the night of the event were nearly $105,000 towards lighting the tree – that is the kick-off of NightLights Fundraising for needed Emergency Service needs for our children. NightLights Fundraising runs through the end of the year – so plenty of time for more Guardian Angels and people to give a child in need a nightlight,” shares Craig Secher, Executive Director of Realities for Children. Donate through www.GiveaNightLight.com

 Craig Secher, Executive Director of Realities for Children, stands by Katana, Triumph Award Winner and guest speaker sharing her story of survival. Photo by Craig Vollmer Photography.

This author had the honor of attending the event wearing two hats. North Forty News is a media sponsor, as we often are for local fundraising events. I also participated as an employee representative for one of the nonprofit partner organizations. I spent 12 years of my career serving at-risk youth, seeing abuse and neglect firsthand, as well as the lasting impacts, and being a part of connecting kids and families with the resources needed to get on the right path. This event impacted me emotionally. There is something extra special about a collective effort to bring light and awareness to an issue affecting our most vulnerable populations behind closed doors. Huge thanks to Realities for Children for all they do to support this population, alongside the nonprofit partner agencies filling essential needs.

If you missed the event or want to learn more about this cause, you can find videos and links at Realities for Children’s website: realitiesforchildren.com/events/night-lights/ 

 NightLights Tree and sponsors. Photo by Craig Vollmer Photography.

Published in North Forty News, Dec 2, 2021