Main Event + The Birthday Party Project

Every Child Deserves a Birthday Celebration

Plano-based Main Event is working to make sure that even those living in challenging situations can have a special day. In November, more than 400 kids and their families converged on the Grapevine location for an epic party with plenty of food, games and fun. It was an afternoon to remember thanks to a newly formed partnership between Main Event and the nonprofit Birthday Party Project.

“Many of them had never even seen a place like this,” said Doug Terfehr, Main Event head of marketing communications, brand partnerships and social impact. “You can imagine their expressions.”

Family celebrating at Main Event // photos courtesy Main Event

A high school marching band greeted partygoers as they arrived to the November event. Guests entered the building via a red carpet as Main Event team members and local volunteers cheered. Once inside, they were given VIP cards for two hours’ access to video games, bowling, laser tag and activities. Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery supplied dessert. After the birthday feast, children were serenaded with “Happy Birthday.” Then they got to select prizes from the popular Winner’s Choice area.

“We couldn’t be prouder to be partnering with another DFW-based company to do something special,” Doug said. “To get more than 400 kids in our Grapevine location was pretty special, and really something we don’t take for granted.”

Child playing games in Main Event arcade

The Birthday Party Project was founded in 2012 on the philosophy that every child deserves to be recognized on his birthday. The organization works with 46 agencies in 15 different cities, including 14 homeless shelters in DFW, to celebrate with as many kids as possible. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that homelessness in the Dallas metro area increased by 44% between 2015 and 2019. Collin County alone reported more than 550 homeless people during the 2019 federally mandated Point in Time census. Almost 200 of those people were children.

“We know that bringing joy to children creates joyful communities, so it’s all about bringing the community together to celebrate children,” said Kimberly Nielsen, Birthday Party Project director of operations. “However we can do that is our mission.”

For many children the Main Event party may be the first birthday celebration they’ve had in their entire lives. Some don’t even know how to react when presented with gifts of their own. Kimberly admits that watching the kids blow out their candles and make a wish can be an emotional experience.

“Overall it’s just a feeling of sheer joy that these kids finally get to experience this,” she said. “Not everybody has a home, but everybody has a birthday.” 

Main Event will hold quarterly birthday celebrations in Texas locations, hoping to expand to other markets in the near future. A party is planned at the Plano site in March.

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