Mesa teen sings her way to helping abused kids The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa teen sings her way to helping abused kids

Mesa teen sings her way to helping abused kids

By Brooke Dixon, Tribune Contributor

Thirteen-year-old Rosevelt Rawls has a passion to sing and a drive to help children suffering from abuse.

Earlier this fall, the Mesa teen combined her passions at her own fundraising event, titled “The Music and the Message,” to raise money for Childhelp, a nonprofit that fights child abuse.

Rosevelt’s budding singing career started about four years ago when she was given the opportunity to sing with comedy legend Dick Van Dike – who worked with her father Jef Rawls, a corporate trainer ad entertainer who founded The JestersZ, an improv clean-comedy group.

“It just kind of happened,” said Rosevelt, a seventh grader currently in distance learning.

Rosevelt’s love and passion for singing and helping children led her to create an inspirational fundraising project.

In a single night, she raised $100,000 and now has her sights set on raising $1 million to help abused children.

Her blockbuster fundraiser Sept. 26 drew more than 200 socially distanced vehicles to Schnepf Farms while other people who could not attend her concert watched on livestream. 

 Her father ran much of the marketing for the event.

“We set up a page online so people could watch from the comfort of their homes and families could have watch parties at home,” said Jef, who also has acted and produced a variety of TV and radio shows.

 The father-daughter duo has been putting on the Childhelp fundraising event for two years but this year COVID-19 made everything a little different.

Rosevelt was not discouraged by the pandemic, and noted that they followed all safety guidelines because they were determined to put on the show.

“Everything going on has raised numbers of child abuse because kids can’t escape their homes as they don’t have school or after-school activities,” Rosevelt said.

As a Childhelp ambassador, Rosevelt cares most about helping children in need. She noted that in the past 61 years, Childhelp has helped over 10.5 million children and she wanted to be a part of that.

All benefits and proceeds raised from The Music and the Message went directly to Childhelp and Operation Underground Railroad, another nonprofit that works to end sex trafficking of minors.

Sponsors who covered the concert’s cost included Spring Creek Enterprise, Western Transport Logistics, Bashas’ and The Hebets Company, among others.

Throughout the pandemic, Rosevelt said, Childhelp has done its best to continue helping children as much as possible.

It started a text helpline so children can text or call for help or any questions they may have.

Rosevelt said she was determined to pull off the concert because so many nonprofits like Childhelp and Operation Underground Railroad depend on events for the bulk of their fundraising.

The event consisted of musical performances from Rosevelt Rawls, William Joseph, and Colton Avery.

Speakers included Operation Underground Railroad CEO Tim Ballard, Childhelp co-founders Sara O’Meara, and Yvonne Fedderson. It was emceed by Coach Dar and Jef Rawls.

Rosevelt’s first concert on Childhelp’s behalf was held at the Mesa Arts Center, which has been closed since the pandemic broke in March.

The keynote speaker at that event was Elizabeth Smart, who spoke about her 2002 kidnapping from her Utah home when she was just 14.

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