By all indications, the 30th anniversary celebration of the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert was a success, punctuated by a couple of unexpected surprises.
The milestone event, which doubled as a fundraiser for the Museum, attracted about 100 people, including elected representatives from every Coachella Valley community except one — and Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny” Perez. Richard Kite, a member of the Rancho Mirage City Council and an ex-officio member of the Museum’s board of trustees, and Rancho Mirage City Councilmember Iris Smotrich represented Rancho Mirage at the event.
“That’s a really good showing for us,” said Amir Afsar, president of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “We’re happy with a group of 100 very supportive people.”
The event was designed in part to honor a man, Skip Paige, who has quietly donated more than $1 million, either personally or through his company, to benefit children in the Coachella Valley.
“It was a very emotional moment for him,” Afsar said. “When he talks about children you can see, you can hear, you can feel his passion.”
But it’s what Paige did while being honored that nearly brought down the house. Paige, who helped develop the Coachella, Stagecoach and Desert Trip music festivals into signature, sell-out events in the Coachella Valley as COO of Goldenvoice, turned to the audience and implored attendees to support the Museum.
His on-the-spot plea for support of the Museum raised $6,000 over and above the fundraising event. And, Vincent Battaglia, founder, CEO and president of Renova Energy, offered to pay for a shade structure that will be used to protect an outdoor musical exhibit. Afsar said it is a “costly” piece of equipment.
At one point, Kite and Smotrich raised concerns about how the decision was made to honor Paige, who is in a committed relationship with Katherine “Kate” Spates, one of six candidates in the upcoming election. They were assured the decision to honor Paige was made long before Spates announced her candidacy. In a quest to stem any political fallout and return the focus of the fundraising to the Museum and children’s needs, Afsar implored all City Councilmembers and candidates to attend the special 30th anniversary celebration. In the end, only Kite, Smotrich and Spates attended.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Afsar said there is no question Paige was the right person to be honored. He said Paige has done more than they even realized. That became evident when Supervisor Perez honored Paige with the “Great Friend to Kids” awards for opening a free medical clinic in the East Valley.
“There are so many things he’s doing and people he’s helping and people aren’t even aware,” Afsar said. “Apparently he would give Coachella Valley High School students free tickets to Coachella if they had perfect attendance. We had a bunch of people wanting to join the chorus in honoring him.”
When the honoree was first announced, Afsar said, “Skip has done a great deal for our museum and for children without a lot of fanfare. Our goal was to find and honor someone who supports children.”
During Paige’s tenure at Goldenvoice, he spearheaded several philanthropic initiatives including the foundation of the Academy of Music Performance (AMP) which provides summer music camps and year-round educational and performance opportunities to young musicians living in the Coachella Valley; and California CareForce, a three-day clinic in Indio providing free medical, dental and optical services to persons of all ages.