Keiron Elliott will be the VIP host at The Desert Underground.

Much has been made of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in popular media; those of us who came of age in the ’80s can remember television shows highlighting the excellent work the nonprofit does to help critically ill children meet a hero, or go to Disneyland, or even become a marine biologist.

Make-A-Wish’s goal is to bring to life the wishes of every eligible child in their program. These wishes brighten children’s lives—and their research shows that youth who have their wishes granted can even sometimes build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight their illnesses.

Over the last 40 years, Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire (OCIE) has granted almost 8,000 wishes to kids in the area. Part of the beauty of the organization is that the only limit to a child’s wish is their imagination, whether they want to scuba-dive, or build a treehouse, or become the first (virtual) astronaut on Saturn. Make-A-Wish staff and volunteers work to help a child look past their limitations, overcome anxiety—and bring their community together to experience hope and joy. 

With more than 300 critically ill children in Riverside and San Bernardino counties waiting for their wishes to be granted, it is up to us, the community, to help make these dreams a reality. With 73 cents of every dollar raised going directly to granting wishes, Make-A-Wish helps restore a sense of childhood and normalcy to children and families.

To raise funds, Make-A-Wish OCIE is debuting a new event here in the Coachella Valley: At 5:30 p.m., Saturday, March 11, the community is invited to spend the evening at “The Desert Underground.” Imago Galleries in Palm Desert will be transformed into a Prohibition-style speakeasy—complete with secret entrances and rooftop hideaways.

“We are excited to bring this event to the Coachella Valley and spend the evening with the generous community who makes the magic happen for our wish kids,” said Gloria Jetter Crockett, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire, in a news release. “This is also a special time for our chapter as we celebrate our 40th anniversary, and we are thrilled to share the celebration with the communities we serve.”

Once attendees purchase their tickets, they will receive a password to enter and explore the halls of this exclusive art gallery, experience each of the themed lounges, and sample craft cocktails. The lounges feature interactive experiences, including the Enchanted Tiki Lounge, with fruity drinks; The Lab, featuring molecular mixology (think gels, foams, liquid nitrogen and much more); and El Desierto, with traditional Mexican food and spicy cocktails.

F10 Catering—the same folks who run Mr. Lyons, Birba and Cheeky’s—is paring each cocktail with an innovative tasting menu, so you know the food will be wonderful. VIP guests can head to the rooftop lounge, sample fine Scotch whiskies, and experience the comedy of Kieron Elliott, a native of Scotland who serves as the brand ambassador for The Macallan Single Malt Scotch.

Put on your desert finery, and toast to wishes under the stars while helping renew hope, uplift spirits and change the lives of children with critical illnesses.

“The Desert Underground,” a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish OCIE, takes place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Saturday, March 11, at Imago Galleries, 45450 Highway 74, in Palm Desert. Tickets start at $250. For tickets or more information, visit For more information on Make-A-Wish OCIE, visit

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Charles Drabkin

Charles Drabkin is a native of McMinnville, Ore., the heart of the Oregon Wine Country, where the relationship between food and people was instilled in him at an early age. After working his way around...

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