As the weather finally begins to cool in Arizona, many residents in the Valley are starting to dream of a White Christmas.  But it is not of one they used to know.  This time it is a nostalgic dinner gala to benefit The Board of Visitors Ryan House, to be held Friday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Arizona Biltmore.

Taking place in the historic Gold Room, known in the 1930s for its elegant dining, the room will once again feature a chic, elegant nightclub vibe, complete with gentlemen in white dinner jackets or tuxes and ladies in evening gowns.  The event will celebrate the music of the ‘30s and ‘40s, and commemorate the writing of the musical classic “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin at the Arizona Biltmore in 1940.  It will, at the same time, raise funds to be specifically donated to the Story of Me Room at Ryan House.

“The Story of Me Room at Ryan House is one of the most sentimental rooms in the building,” said Ryan House founding member and event co-chair Judy Shannon.  “It is a multi-media room where children can build their own legacies by recording daily experiences and personal messages for loved ones and friends, and document their own personal journeys, a gift that is later priceless for parents.”

Ryan House is a 12,500-square-foot home built to provide respite care, pediatric palliative care, and end-of-life care to children ages one day to 17 years old.  Staff delivers appropriate life-enhancing therapies and activities in a supportive, home-like setting where all are welcome.

“The facility was modeled after Helen House, which was the world’s first pediatric palliative and hospice based in the United Kingdom,” said Ryan House Executive Director Alyssa Crockett.  “This was where Ryan Cottor, then an infant, and his family who was originally from Arizona received care after his diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy in 2002.  With help and contributions from Hospice of the Valley, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Junior League of Phoenix, Kitchell, SLHI, Orcutt|Winslow and the largest gift to date from The Board of Visitors for whom the house is named, Ryan House, as envisioned by the Cottor family, was granted its 501(c)3 status in 2004 and the doors opened in March 2010.

Ryan House has eight themed children’s bedrooms and three family suites, as well as five specialized rooms dedicated to art, music, sensory stimulation, relaxation and fun, plus a fully accessible playground and memory garden.

“This holiday season will mark the fifth anniversary of Ryan House at the same time White Christmas is celebrating its beginning five years ago,” said long-time Ryan House consultant and event founder and co-chair Jan Johnson.  “White Christmas is a very special event and seating is limited to 300.  Attendees will enjoy the nostalgic, ‘Rainbow Room-type’ atmosphere, complete with girls carrying cigarette trays, big band orchestra sound and a performance by Phoenix Theatre directed and produced by Michael Barnard, plus an after-party featuring cigars, port and sweet indulgences.”