Friday, July 3, 2015

What a wonderful time!

This past weekend 115 families from all over the U.S. and Canada with a total of over 400 people attended our 8th annual Kazapalooza. It is always so exciting to see so many faces full of happiness and joy in getting together with other Kaz families. 

For the third year we welcomed a representative of the Kazakhstan government to our event. The Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan in New York, Raushan Esbulatova attended with her son, Ryan. We spoke about the possibility of working together next year to celebrate Kazakhstan's 25th Anniversary. 

Friday night's pool party was hot but fun. Families enjoyed dinner around the pool as kids played and met each other while cooling off in the water. Donations for our raffle were dropped off and families picked up their goody bags and KP shirts. Volunteers gathered in our meeting room to group raffle baskets and organize the raffle for the following day. We would like to thank everyone that volunteered to make this year so special. We truly could not have this event without our generous families and their help. 

Saturday, families gathered for lunch where we showed the slideshow of photos submitted prior to the event. Tanner Struck created a beautiful video to showcase our families and brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance. He does such a great job and works so hard for weeks to put this together for all of us. Thanks Tanner!
We sang Happy Birthday to all those attending that had birthdays within two weeks of the event and celebrated with cake and cookies.
This was the first year that volunteers created a table of goodies for kids to purchase for $1 to raise money for our charity. The kid's table brought in over $500!! Great job Kaz kids! A special thanks to Jaimie Lloyd who made all the bracelets for the table. They were a hit!

Our charity this year was J127 Ranch. Located in Taraz they work to find ways to improve the lives of their community and children. They look for ways to help others by providing child care, meals and medical assistance to those in need. Between the kid's table, our raffle tickets, and Victoria's table of items for sale from Kazakhstan over $16,000 was raised this weekend by our families for their cause! This money will go toward the purchase of their home. 

Saturday afternoon many families met in small groups according to their child's region in Kaz. Many were appreciative of the time to meet others from the same region. 

Sunday we met again to say good bye and exchange contact information in order to stay connected throughout the year. The Planners hope that by attending KP families can get to know others in order to create bonds that carry over throughout the year and not just at KP. 

We had a wonderful time and hope that our families did as well. Next year we are trying to plan our event for out west. We are currently in talks with a resort in Colorado but will know more in the coming weeks. Once we have signed a contract with the hotel we will be able to announce the location more specifically. Please be patient with us as we plan. So much work is done behind the scenes all year long. We are already trying to plan 2017 too! That will be our 10th KP and we are very much looking forward to it!

Parents trying to get pictures of all the kids together. Can you say paparazzi? 

These families have attended all 8 Kazapalooza events!
Families and Planners welcomed Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan in New York Raushan Esbulatova.

Smores on Sunday night

Thank you to all the families that volunteered and helped through the weekend. We couldn't do it without you!

One of our many wonderful donations for the raffle

We celebrated birthdays at KP too!

Families from all over the U.S and Canada attended.

Planners of KP are Gretchen Bilbro, Karen Kitzman and Kristan Struck

All of our beautiful children gathered in one place!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Charity selected for 2015!- J127 Ranch in Taraz.

One of our favorite aspects of Kazapalooza is Saturday's raffle that gives our families the opportunity to come together as a collective group to give back to the country that helped us build our families. 
As planners, we try to spread the donations raised at KP to the various charitable organizations that are making an impact in Kazakhstan. This year we are excited to announce that our designated charity is J127 Ranch in Taraz. 
J127 Ranch is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of not only orphans, but to the children of single parents, foster families, as well families of children with disabilities. They accomplish this by providing education, life and social skills, Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapy along with providing a safe environment for children who would otherwise be roaming the streets while their parents are working. They also provide meals to these children, some of which it may be the only meal they have that day.
The planners are drawn to J127 due to their commitment in helping orphans, but also their commitment to helping improve the lives of individuals within the community by empowering families to stay together and helping children to reach their full potential. 
J127 Ranch does not currently own the property where the above services are taking place. In order to provide stability and security for the individuals that they serve as well as future growth, purchasing the property is a priority. Therefore the funds raised by our KP families this year will go directly toward the purchase of this property in Taraz. 
We are also providing the option to donate directly to J127 at the following link. For every $5 donation you will receive 1 raffle ticket. Save your receipt to show to us at Kazapalooza in exchange for raffle tickets. The link to make your donation follows ……
To learn more about J127 you can Like their facebook page or visit their website…
We appreciate all of our families. Kazapalooza is what it is only because of each and every one of our families. Thank you

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Location and Date Announcement for 2015!

Registration is now CLOSED for 2015! 

Finally!!! After searching high and low for a great location to host our 2015 Kazapalooza, we are excited to announce that the location will be in…..
Orlando, Florida at the OMNI Resort at Championsgate.
The OMNI is not a Disney resort, so please make no mistake, this is Not a Disney related Kazapalooza.
The OMNI is however, a perfect fit for our families! Over the years we have witnessed time and time again that our families love pool time. The Omni provides just that with two pools (one with a slide), a lazy river, hot tubs, splash pad, basketball court, tennis court, volleyball net and a 9 hole miniature golf course. What’s great about the pool area is that it’s big enough for our families not to be on top of each other, yet small enough to give it an intimate feel. 
Tanner went with me and gave it two thumbs up. He said if he can entertain himself for two hours and still not want to leave, he can only imagine how fun it will be it's overflowing with kids. Therefore if you haven’t already, be sure to reserve the weekend of June 26-28 to spend in Orlando, FL for Kazapalooza.
As always there is a registration fee to participate in the weekend. We are in the process of determining what that will be now. Registration will start mid Jan. The registration fee covers the Friday evening dinner, Saturday Luncheon, goodie bags; basically all costs associated with putting on the event. 
Each family is responsible for booking their own rooms, however please note, THE HOTEL WILL NOT START TAKING RESERVATIONS FOR OUR BLOCK UNTIL  NOV. 4th.
The rates are as follows;
Standard single/double room-$171 per night
There is the ability to upgrade to Junior and Executive Suites for an additional charge. $60 upcharge for Junior Suite, $150 for Executive Suite
There are also 2 and 3 bedrooms Villas (based on availability).
2 Bedroom Villa is $342 per night
3 Bedroom Villa is $392 per night 
The Villas are a great option for families to share to reduce costs.
All Rates apply as long as there are rooms available. The rates are good for our families 3 days prior and post KP.
Each year we wonder how we will make the upcoming year as good as the previous year. What we’ve learned is that each year has it’s own special quality and uniqueness, but one thing that is always the same are that memories are being made.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 is one for the books!

Kazapalooza 2014 was a year to remember! We welcomed over 150 families (450 people) to Hope Lake Lodge/Greek Peak resort in Cortland, NY for a fun-filled weekend celebrating adoption and family. Families enjoyed many activities including s'mores at a campfire, movie nights, regional kickball tournament, ice cream social, and of course the much anticipated Saturday raffle.

The weekend began with a Friday morning Parent/Child yoga class to get us all centered and ready for the weekend activities. That evening we came together to enjoy a meal and get to know each other a little better by playing People BINGO. Later into the evening we played a rousing game of Heads or Tails and raised $1,000 for  fellow Kaz kid, Lucca whose mother passed away unexpectedly this year. Our thoughts are with Lucca and his cousin who is now raising him. We hope you know that we are all thinking of you and hope you can make it to the next KP. After dinner we met up again for a campfire with s'mores and the Lego movie under the stars.

Saturday was an exciting day as we gathered to peruse the donations and place our tickets for the annual raffle. Proceeds benefitted the SPOON Foundation. Our families donated a total of $12,785 for the SPOON Foundation this year! That is a record amount for KP. Thank you so much to all of our families who brought donations for the raffle and purchased tickets. You are making such a tremendous difference in the lives of many children in Kazakhstan.

We also welcomed several special guests this year. Representatives from the Kazakhstan Consulate, Mr Rustam Alikulov, Assistant to the General Consul and Mr. Kadyr Kayupov, Vice-Consul  brought many gifts for our families as well as played a Dombra concert for us. They also passed out information on renewing Kaz passports and visa information. We also welcomed representatives, Karla Sarsekeyeva and Azhara Mestler from the Kazakh-American Association. They brought some beautiful donations for our raffle. Thank you!

Several of our families participated in a documentary this weekend with Aizhan Kul-Mukhammed and photographer, Gulvira Montayeva, both from Kazakhstan. Aizhan authored an article last year about Americans adopting Kazakhstani children. This next article will focus on Kazapalooza. Here you can find her original article. Kazakhs adopted by Americans

After the luncheon families spread out to enjoy a kickball tournament, obstacle course, scavenger hunt, bounce house, lake time and general running wild all around the Lodge. Mid afternoon we took a break at the lake pavilion for an ice cream social and took in the beautiful lakeside views of the Lodge and surrounding area.

Saturday night offered a few different activities. While Frozen was playing outside there were s'mores, aWii tournament for the older kids, and a BeyBlade tournament in the lobby.

What a great way to start the weekend with a Parent/Child Yoga class at the Lodge!

Our first and second place BINGO winners!

These five families have been to every single Kazapalooza!

Movie night on the grounds of the Lodge.

Families enjoyed a campfire with s'mores both Friday and Saturday night.

Families enjoying a dombra concert by Kazakhstan Consulate representative, Mr. Kadyr Kayupov, Vice-Consul. 

Kazakh-American Alliance representatives, Karla and Azhara with Kaz Mom Susan. 

The youngest and oldest Kaz kids at KP this year!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kazapalooza Raffle Details


An exciting part of our weekend is holding a raffle to support a charity working with orphans in Kazakhstan.

The raffle is our opportunity to give back to the children living in orphanages in the country that gave us so much. Last year there were around 55 families in attendance and we raised over $6,000 for Ark Village! With over 100 families coming to this year’s event wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could double that record?

This year we are excited to be supporting the SPOON Foundation ( Their mission is to improve nutrition and feeding for orphans and vulnerable children so they may grow and develop to their full potential.
Here is an overview of how the raffle works...

We ask that each family consider bringing a donation to be raffled at our luncheon on Saturday.

***It can be any size or type of donation. Our families are some of the most generous and imaginative with their donations.

To get you thinking, here are some of the donations we have had in the past:

• Kazakh related items are always a big hit – there has been tote bags embroidered with the KP logo; stained glass of the Kazakh flag; a belt buckle, domino set, & cutting board with the Kazakh flag engraved on it; and even a child size lawn chair with the flag woven into the seat
• spa products
• souvenirs from your local city/state/province
• gift cards
• handmade items like hair bows and aprons
• jewelry
• games, toys, puzzles, books
• kitchen items
• clothing items
• home business items such as handmade tables, chairs, hair bows, and even an autographed book
• iPod/iPad
• candies, sweets, other food items
• beach and outdoor gear
• anything in Kaz colors

***If you have friends that are talented and would be willing to donate an item, ask! Families and friends of our attendees often love helping by giving items. Please keep in mind that our families are coming from all over the country, even Canada. Many will be flying home so extra large items may be best showcased with a picture and offer to ship to the winner.

Once you know what you are donating, please email or post what you are bringing - that will help us to organize all the prizes and also allow us to give a preview of the raffle items.

Please drop off your donated items for the raffle at the KP registration on Friday afternoon.
***Please note that to save on time during Saturday’s luncheon we will be combining most items into baskets and bags. Our families are so generous (which is a wonderful thing!) that if we drew for each item individually we would be drawing for hours. If you would like to work with friends to create your own basket, by all means please do so, otherwise we will combine items as they are dropped off at registration. (Note: If you do create your own basket please include an itemized list of all the items in the basket.)

On Saturday morning the luncheon room will open approximately one hour prior to the event. You will be able to purchase tickets for $5 each at the ticket tables in the luncheon room. This money goes directly to SPOON Foundation.

***NEW THIS YEAR: Make an online donation to SPOON Foundation during May or June. Bring your receipt to our event and receive the equivalent amount in raffle tickets to be used in our raffle. (Note: We will not keep your receipt but would like the total and last name of the donor to keep track of our total.)

SPOON donation link:

Tables will be set up for you to browse and look over the raffle items. You will place your tickets in a cup which corresponds to the donation you would like to win. We will pull tickets at the end of the meal and give you your prize that day.

***If you are unable to attend this year's event, you may still donate items for the raffle. Send us an email to get more information.

If you have any questions feel free to post them here, email or contact one of us.

Looking forward to seeing you all in a few short months!

 Tanya Gerbrandt, Ria Kentoff & Gena Lloyd
Your 2014 Kazapalooza Raffle Coordinators