By Kianna Gardner
We are starting to wonder if there is anything Debbie Gaby can’t do. Among many other things, she’s an author; an accomplished real estate agent; an ambassador with Camp Soaring Eagle; the co-founder of the former Sleep America, the largest mattress retailer in the state of Arizona; and the recipient of multiple prestigious awards, including the “Florence Crittenton Visionary Award” in 2015.
For her next “life chapter,” as she likes to call it, Gaby has turned her attention towards providing for those in need through her charity program, Debbie Gaby Charities. Through different fundraising events and relentless community support, Gaby has raised thousands of dollars for different organizations over the years.
Debbie Gaby’s Celebrity Catwalk, one of her most distinguished fundraisers, will return on October 11 for its 10-year anniversary at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia.
“It was very rewarding to see people enjoy themselves at a fundraiser and having an organization reap the benefits of us having a good time,” Gaby said, reflecting back on her very first Celebrity Catwalk nearly a decade ago, when all proceeds went to Area Agency on Aging to support those with Alzheimer’s disease. It was this first fundraiser that inspired Gaby to continue the catwalk events. “My heart loves it,” Gaby said. “When I was young I felt like I had a lot of help through my life, so that’s why I feel I need to help a lot of people now.”
According to Gaby, 96 percent of the money raised from the Catwalk events goes right back to the community and chosen charity. This year’s lucky beneficiaries for the “Purrfect 10 Celebrity Catwalk” are VALLEYLIFE and Homes for Our Troops.
“We have such a giving community, and that’s what makes Debbie’s Catwalk one of the
more premiere events of the Valley,” said JoAnn Holland, the Operations Chair for the event. “Not only does Debbie rally the celebrities, but she rallies the community as a whole.”
Just like each one before it, the upcoming Catwalk event promises to impress. Event highlights include an elegant luncheon, a live auction conducted by Letitia Frye, and of course, Valley celebrities modeling fashion from Dillard’s down the catwalk. Many community leaders from last year’s event, including Ilana Lowery, editor from Phoenix Business Journal, and Rick McCartney, the CEO of InMedia, are expected to hit the runway again this year.
More than 400 people will be in attendance, and, according to Gaby, the event sells out quickly every year. As a bonus, each attendee will receive a pre-sale copy of Gaby’s new book “Bouquet of Gifts: Transformations from my Life Gathered to Inspire Yours.” The story encapsulates Gaby’s often-difficult life decisions that lead her to become the entrepreneur and philanthropist she is today.
“I believe many doors will open if you just knock,” Gaby said. “You have to believe in something, so why not believe in yourself?”
For more on Debbie Gaby and the 2016 Celebrity Catwalk event, visit debbiegabycharities.org.
Kianna Gardner is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona where she studied journalism, marketing and environmental sciences. She is passionate about the environment, particularly water resources, and would like to one day be editor of her own environmental magazine.
Find more leadership articles at greenlivingaz.com/leadership