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April 2, 2013 > Fundraiser to mark Boldly Me's first year

Fundraiser to mark Boldly Me's first year

By M. J. Laird

Boldly Me, a local organization committed to helping people embrace their physical differences, marks its first anniversary in bold fashion. Actress Carolyn Hennesy, known for her role as Diane Miller in "General Hospital" and Barb in "Cougar Town" as well as appearances in "True Blood," will serve as Master of Ceremonies at a fundraising evening, Friday, April 12.

"Boldly Me's Got Talent" will feature dinner, live entertainment, a silent auction, and dancing at the Fremont Marriott, Silicon Valley, starting at 6 p.m. Dream Achievers, a Fremont band that boasts autistic members and plays blues to Top Forty tunes, will perform along with comedian Sam Meeker, the Boldly Me Break Dancers and Baton Twirlers, among others.

Since the organization officially received its nonprofit status last August, founder and President Alanna Powell of Fremont with a band of 35 dedicated volunteers has fielded hundreds of online requests through the Boldly Me website. People seek support as they deal with issues ranging from cancer to obesity to epilepsy to accidental burns. In February, Boldly Me launched its first series of classes, offering self-esteem, relaxation, yoga, communication and image counseling.

"I have so much knowledge of what it feels like to be different. I wanted to create a safe haven where people who feel different can relax, where they can heal and they don't have to fear being found out," says Powell.

Born with a full head of hair, Powell has lived with alopecia that started at age two, leaving her bald. For most of her life, Powell chose to hide her baldness underneath a wig; yet, a wig could not erase feelings of fear. When she was younger, she worried if she would ever find love because of her difference. When she revealed her baldness to the man who would become her husband, he tried to reassure her. "A weight lifted off of me," she recalls. "He tried to convince me that baldness wasn't that big of a deal."

The stepping stones for Boldly Me began in 2009 when Powell, an electrical engineer who was successfully operating an advertising firm and caring for three young children, took a class from Stephen Goveia, a Bay Area CPA with a history of establishing startups and restructuring businesses in the U.S. and abroad. The class and foundation that Goveia established - 86400 - signifies the number of seconds in each day. Designed for entrepreneurs, the course confronted Powell with questions challenging her to identify her passion and a legacy she wanted to leave on Earth.

"My entire life had been a reaction to fear or sadness," Powell says, "or making decisions based on logic and family lineage, not from my inner passion, my drive to help change the world."

Rather than continue to react to the stimuli around her, she voiced her desire to create an organization to inspire people with differences to accept themselves, transforming from the inside out while the organization would work to change negative perceptions and insensitive attitudes toward people with differences.

For two years, Powell carried the dream of the organization; while working at Yahoo, she faced Justin Somaini, Yahoo CISO executive, who again challenged her to begin to realize her dream. When Stacey Leuzze, a Redwood Systems executive and friend, called to recruit her later that year, Powell was becoming more vocal about launching Boldly Me. Her friend promised to lend support to the dream, prompting Powell to change jobs. Through Leuzze, she met a mentor who could teach her about nonprofits, Kirk Roller, a high tech executive and minister who had helped launch a number of nonprofits. By the time Redwood Systems restructured in November 2011, Powell was ready to focus on building her dream organization.

A contact from her advertising days, Debra Mitchell of Twisted Silver, began to spread the word in Hollywood circles, helping to gain support for Boldly Me from Hennesy, actress Ruth Wilhoit (also expected to attend the April 12 fundraiser) and others.

A seven-member board oversees the 501(c)3 nonprofit Boldly Me and includes Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, who serves as treasurer. Other members include Keith Martin, Kristin Spitz, Margaret Andrews, Jason Yancey, Dave Barrow, and Powell.

"Boldly Me's Got Talent" is a great opportunity to support this wonderful local organization and help keep the dream going strong.

Boldly Me's Got Talent
Friday, Apr 12
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Marriott Fremont, Silicon Valley
46100 Landing Parkway, Fremont
(408) 768-9257

Tickets: $100 (tax deductible)

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