Quad Cities March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction

BETTENDORF, Ia. – So, yes I’m a little behind…. BUT… it’s all in the name of great photos! 😉

The Signature Chefs Auction, held just a couple weeks ago, is one of the biggest fundraisers for the March of Dimes. The event entails a lot of great food from area restaurant chefs, a silent auction, and some incredible live auction packages. The end result is tons of money be raised for a worthy cause – that of improving the health of babies born premature or with birth defects through research, education and advocacy.

This was my third year shooting the event. And this time around I had assistance from fellow photographers Teresa Ousley and Elisabeth Somes for the beginning part of it.

Here’s some highlights:

The chefs tables were busy busy busy with people eager to try some gourmet samples.

People enjoying restaurant food samples prepared by chefs

There’s honestly so much great food at this event it’s hard to know where to start. The combination of items are just incredible. The food is imaginative, creative and tasty. Here’s a glimpse of some of the yumminess from the chefs:

delicious restaurant food

And there was plenty of wine bottles to auction off  as well:

wine bottles and wine glasses

People were having a good time. I was having a good time. After having shot this event the previous two years, I admittedly didn’t shoot as much as usual because there were a number of people who stopped to chat or say “hi.” It was great! After less than 40 frames in the camera I sat and scarfed down some food.

people having fun at a party

Then the program part got underway, starting with some brief words by Andy Sallee – this year’s event chair and president of Tri-State Windows, Siding & Roofing.

movie scene emblem and man making speech

The top chefs were also honored for their culinary talents, with first place (from left) going to Happy Joe’s, second place to The Black Watch Room (at Pebble Creek Golf Course), and third place to Thunder Bay Grille.

top chefs honored

Radio DJ and MC Steve Ketelaar moved throughout the tables of guests and picked out New Orleanian Ben Doolittle, the new executive chef of the Hotel Blackhawk. The historic landmark is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and is expected to open in December.

interview with hotel blackhawk chef davenport

Afterward, the Wichman family came up. They are the Ambassador Family for the QC area, and dad Jim shared the story about the youngest Rhett, who was born 5 weeks early and spent 23 days in the NICU.

march of dimes ambassador family

After their presentation, there was no shame (and shouldn’t be) by the auctioneer in using Rhett to help raise money. After all, at age 3 I imagine he was already past his bedtime and had no interest in impressing anyone with shoes and socks.

Jerry Maguire kid

I’m so fortunate to shoot this event, especially given the money raised (some which impact specific hospital procedures people don’t normally hear about) have helped babies of my friends who have grown to be healthy kids.

march of dimes program

A great event!




*Wedding Wednesday* :: Event Production

The event-planning industry has a huge convention called Engage!10. One of the conference speakers this year was Bryan Rafanelli, owner of Rafanelli Events, who plans tons of weddings, parties, corporate and nonprofit galas in Boston, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Washington, D.C.

Rafanelli’s credentials include a series of inaugural events leading to and the day-of President Obama’s swearing in and Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.

He’s also done his share of nonprofit events, and the below photo is from a fundraiser.

Nonprofit event charity gala

One of Rafanelli’s strong points is to tell a story with each event he works with anything that is conceivable to the client. The result, I imagine, is an amazing display of environments that shows the quality, the care and attention that people appreciate and are excited about.

Although he isn’t local, there’s still much to draw inspiration on from his work – as a photographer, an event planner, and anyone else in the creative field. And, of course…as a bride.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever…

Shuva Rahim's signature

Quad Cities March of Dimes Featured Child ~ Grant

BETTENDORF, Ia. – I’ve photographed Grant a few times now, and he’s a definite ham in front of the camera. He was born 9 weeks early and is now a healthy and energetic boy. He was last year’s Ambassador Child for the March of Dimes, and will be showcased again this year among other youngsters who were born premature during the organization’s annual Signature Chefs Auction this Wednesday.

March of Dimes Child with Biaggis Restaurant Chef

The event features area chefs who will be preparing gourmet samples for attendees to enjoy and vote on. Grant is featured with Biaggi’s Chef Patrick Trainor, who has been part of this event for a number of years now and will no doubt have a spectacular items for the palate. Two more days ’til this event — I can’t wait!

Shuva Rahim's signature

Emma ~ March of Dimes Featured Kid

BETTENDORF, Ia. – Emma is smart, creative and a lot of fun. At age 12, she’s done a lot thanks to the support of her family and friends who have known her since her days as a premature infant.

Emma will be one of the youngsters profiled during the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction this Wednesday. She is photographed with Chef Doug Leer of Bass Street Chop House.

I’ll be there! Will you?

Shuva Rahim of Accent Photographics

Violet ~ March of Dimes Featured Kid

BETTENDORF, Ia. – Violet reminds me of Ramona Quimby. She’s cute, smart and has a lot of personality. I only spent a few minutes with her but I liked her immediately. She is one local kids who will be featured at this year’s March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction this coming Wednesday. At age 7, Violet has come a long way since her days at the NICU where she spent 3 months after being born at 25 weeks.

With her is Chef Greg Sanders of The Black Watch Room at Pebble Creek Golf Course in Davenport. He and a handful of other area chefs will be preparing gourmet dishes for guests to sample and vote on.

I’m excited to see what the chefs come up with – because I plan to taste everything!

Good times!

Elisabeth ~ March of Dimes Featured Kid

BETTENDORF, Ia. – It’s been an interesting few days as I evaluate projects I want to do for the next year. But one thing I don’t see changing anytime soon is my commitment to the March of Dimes.

Its Signature Chefs Auction next Wednesday, Oct. 13 is a huge event featuring a handful of local healthy children who were born premature, such as 11-year-old Elisabeth. I had an opportunity to photograph her family last year, and am delighted she will among the youngsters recognized. With her is Chef Robert Cook of The Faithful Pilot. He and a handful of area restaurant chefs will be dishing up some gourmet samples for guests to sample and vote on.

For more information on the Signature Chefs Auction, click on this link, and hope to see you there!


Sasha ~ March of Dimes Featured Child

BETTENDORF, Ia. – I owe part of the beginning of my photography career to Sasha and her mom, Shari.

When I returned to the Quad Cities in 2007 after being away for nearly 10 years, I had no clue what to do. I had just moved back from Maine after completing a graduate-level documentary photography program, and started scanning the paper. I saw a notice about a 1st birthday party hosted by Trinity for a little girl. I called up Shari, introduced myself and asked if I could come shoot it for fun. She agreed, and that’s when I first met Sasha – a 1-year-old born 14 weeks ago. At her party, I remember a happy robust baby freely diving into the mini cake placed on her high chair.

She became the March of Dimes Ambassador Child two years ago. Today she is 4, a very active and healthy little girl, and one of the kids who will be featured at this year’s March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. Also participating will be Chef Robert Lewis, the executive chef at Happy Joe’s.

I can’t wait to shoot this event! If you haven’t gone, you’ll be in for a spectacular treat, especially with Chef Lewis and his colleagues from various restaurants dishing gourmet samples of deliciousness 🙂



Anlynn ~ March of Dimes Featured Child

BETTENDORF, Ia. – Adorable Anlynn was a previous March of Dimes Ambassador Child and spent some time in Iowa City’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nearly 6 years ago. How time flies. This girl now has attitude and spunk, and I’m excited she’s one of the kids who will be featured at the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction on Oct. 13. She is featured here with Thunder Bay Grille Chef Andy Wildermuth, who will be one of the handfuls of local chefs who will have some delicious food for attendees to sample and vote on.

For more information on the event, click here… and stay tuned for more kids to be highlighted on the blog in the coming days leading up to this big event!



Kaitlin & Cameron ~ March of Dimes Featured Kids

BETTENDORF, Ia. – I photographed these two adorable twins a year ago, and I’m amazed how much they’ve grown and changed. Kaitlin and Cameron of Davenport were born at 25 weeks, and were in Iowa City‘s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 106 days. They are now 3.

The siblings are two of the handful of kids featured with a local participating chef at this year’s March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction on Oct. 13. Kaitlin and Cameron are photographed with Chef Bradley Scott, the culinary arts director for Scott Community College. During this event, he and other area chefs prepare sample dishes attendees can sample and vote on, as well as bid on a handful of really cool silent and live auction items.

I’m excited to be photographing the event for the third year, and if you’ve never been I can attest to its awesomeness! (yes, that’s a real word 🙂

For more information, click on this link and stay tuned for more kids to be featured on the blog as we get closer to the big event.

Have a wonderful day!


Amelia & Nathaniel ~ March of Dimes Featured Kids

BETTENDORF, Ia. – For the third year in a row, I’ll be shooting the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction in mid-October. The event features area chefs who prepare some incredible dishes you can sample and vote on, along with numerous silent and live auction items that are quite spectacular.

To honor the chefs participating this year March of Dimes wanted to feature each with local kids who were born premature. Jason Gomez, the executive chef for Farraday’s at the Isle of Capri, is photographed with Amelia, age 2, and her big brother Nathaniel, who is 3. Nathaniel was born at 32 weeks and spent 31 days in the NICU, and sister Amelia was born at 35 weeks and spent 23 days in the NICU. They are two of the handful of kids selected to be featured at the Signature Chefs Auction.

For more information, check out this link… and stay tuned, as more kids will be featured on the blog in the weeks leading up to the big event!

Have a great day!


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