With summer in full swing in the Old Pueblo, the Women's Active 20-30 Club of Southern Arizona is putting fundraising on the rocks with Cocktailing for a Cause Saturday at Doubletree Hotel at Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way.

"Our club has been doing an annual fundraiser for over 20 years with everything from a Casino Night to Red Hot Havana and we decided a few years ago that we wanted to brand the event so everyone knows they can expect a cocktail party each year," said event chairwoman Kristin Horton.

"We enjoy getting together and having cocktails and thought, 'Why not bring our fundraising efforts into that?' "

The plan has proven successful for the Tucson Alliance for Autism, which has received about $15,000 in proceeds from the event over the past few years.

Proceeds have also benefited the Sara Courtney Memorial Scholarship awarded to a local high school senior attending an Arizona college or university.

Since its inception in 1988, the local chapter of the Women's Active 20-30 Club has donated more than $500,000 to local children's charities, with about half going to Steele Children's Research Center.

The organization is dedicated to promoting professional and social development hand-in-hand with philanthropic work for children.

The Tucson Alliance for Autism has given the group a unique opportunity to help a new community resource center.

The alliance is a collaboration of the University of Arizona department of speech, language and hearing sciences, the Tucson Autism Community Center and the Autism Society of America-Pima County Chapter.

It serves people age 3 and older and their families coping with autism spectrum disorder, a group of developmental disabilities that can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the disorder affects an average of one in every 110 children.

More than 500 people from Southern Arizona utilize Alliance for Autism services each year.

The alliance offers an Autism Resource Library open to the public, autism evaluations and diagnosis and behavioral, occupational, physical, play and speech/language therapies. It also features support groups, referrals and other programs.

Donations from the Women's Active 20-30 Club have funded two new programs: Healthy Image for girls ages 10 to 14 and their mothers (currently being expanded and tailored to young boys); and Healthy Relationships for teens and young adults.

Donations also have provided scholarships for evaluations, which cost $975 per client.

"They have taken our money and started these important community programs for young people with autism," Horton said. "It is really nice for us to see our money stay local and start working immediately."

The alliance's ability to provide services for children 12 and older hinges on such donations, according to Executive Director Kim Crooks.

"Our social thinking groups for middle school through young adults have grown from 10 clients to 90 in the past two years. These are mostly teens and young adults who have not had services before and once they reach the age of 12, many public services are cut off, so we are trying to offer programs for a group in real need," Crooks said.

How You Can Help

• What: Cocktailing for a Cause.

• When: 6 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Doubletree Hotel at Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way.

• Cost: $25 per person or two for $40.

• Etc: Festivities include live entertainment by the Rosano Brothers Virtual Quartet, casino-style gaming, food from local restaurants, drinks, live and silent auctions and a 50/50 raffle (half the money raised goes to the winner).

Raffle tickets are $10 each or three for $20; you need not be present to win. All proceeds benefit the Tucson Alliance for Autism and the Sara Courtney Memorial Scholarship.

• For more information, to make a donation or to buy a ticket for the fundraiser, visit the Women's Active 20-30 Club website at www.2030women.com or call Sheena Stewart at 395-5775.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net