Jeffrey Silva, his son Zane, and Las Cruces come together for the 8th annual Team Zane Celebrity Waiter event on March 11 to raise money for Cancer Aid Resource and Education
Written by Jennifer C. Olson
Photography courtesy MK Design House, LLC
Zane Silva may enjoy math, but he’s no geek. Rather, the 9-year-old boy who has inspired and brought together the Las Cruces community is a survivor.
Zane was born 10 weeks premature, spent four months in El Paso’s Las Palmas Del Sol neo intensive care unit, then suffered the consequences of his resulting fragile immune system for the first year of his life.
“Whenever he would get a common cold—since he had very little immune system being in a clean room environment—it would turn into full-blown pneumonia by evening time,” his dad Jeffrey remembers.
Feeling helpless, Jeffrey prayed and bargained for Zane’s health. “I promised God, if God would save his life, I would do everything I could to help this community.”
That’s when he launched the Team Zane Celebrity Waiter event to benefit a cause he suddenly knew too much about: premature birth and infant mortality. That first fundraiser at La Posta featured 10 waiters, drew 90 attendees, and raised $6,700 for the March Of Dimes, which Jeffrey committed to supporting for five years. “The community had seen what I’d gone through, what my family had gone through, and really kind of rallied around him,” he says.
While Zane has grown into a Las Cruces celebrity in his own right, the event has outgrown La Posta and fills the Las Cruces Convention Center to capacity each year now. For six years, Celebrity Waiter benefited the March Of Dimes, raising nearly $175,000 in total and often making Team Zane one of the country’s top 10 fundraising teams. Last year, Jeffrey decided to switch it up and support a different local nonprofit annually. The 2016 beneficiary, Jardin De Los Niños, provides early childhood education and other services to homeless and near homeless children. “Zane had spent some time there and had asked if there was a way we could help out,” Jeffrey says. The 750 attendees contributed $50,000 to Jardin.
Jeffrey hopes to raise at least that much this year. With a “Revenge of the Nerds” theme, the 8th annual Team Zane Celebrity Waiter fundraiser is set for Saturday, March 11, at 6pm. Tickets cost $60 with the proceeds going to C.A.R.E. (Cancer Aid Resource and Education).
“We built this theme around a nine-year-old at Zane’s school who is in active treatment. To Zane, it hits close to home. But it hits closer to me that a lot of people are struggling. That’s what C.A.R.E. is there for. They give back to the community for those individuals who are in active cancer treatment and having a hard time with their bills,” Jeffrey explains.
As Team Zane continues including new charities each year, the Celebrity Waiter event will likely grow in popularity, Jeffrey says. “We released the VIP tickets back in December, and we sold all the first row VIP tickets within a week.”
Celebrity Waiter is a hit because it encourages silliness. In addition to a feast, the Team Zane committee is planning a “Name That Nerd” contest, adult tricycle races, and a Rubix Cube competition for this year’s event. There might also be zorbing: rolling in giant inflatable balls. “Some of the things that are planned are kind of silly but we’ve shed so many tears that it’s nice to just celebrate life,” Jeffrey says.
As per usual, there will be Best Dressed Waiter and Best Dressed Guest contests. Plus the waiters—dressed as nerds—will each decorate their own tables and do short skits in character. When a waiter does something particularly outrageous, he or she gets showered in tips. “All the tips go to the cause,” Jeffrey says, adding that it’s a fun—and unifying—way to help out. “Zane and I may have started this thing, but it’s only grown because of the loving community we have.
Get to Know Zane
Favorite Things: Math, the color yellow, Ghostbusters, the Forza game for Xbox, macaroni and cheese.
Boy of Few Words: This second grader at Desert Hills Elementary School doesn’t talk much.
Biggest Passion: Stopping cancer. “Cancer is bad. We need to help them. We raise money. We make a donation,” Zane says.
Prayers Before Dreams: “If I’m tired and say, ‘Let’s just go to bed, Zane,’ he says, ‘Not until we pray.’ He asks God to watch over all of these people. Sometimes when we’re praying, it can take a while. That was me when Zane was trying to survive in the hospital,” Jeffrey says.
Looking Forward to: Dancing to Bruno Mars at the Team Zane Celebrity Waiter Event
Free Hugs: “He’ll meet somebody for the first time and he’ll hug them,” Jeffrey says.
8th annual Team Zane Celebrity Waiter Fundraiser
Las Cruces Convention Center
Saturday, March 11, 6pm
Tickets cost $60.
Learn more by visiting facebook.com/TeamZaneCW or calling C.A.R.E. at 575-649-0598.