Skip to main content

Our Community Focus

AHA!'s 3rd Annual Monte Carlo Gala

AHA! Movement Announces its 3rdAnnual Monte Carlo Gala in Honor of Matt Carrington

CEO Debbie Smith of the AHA! Movement and the board of directors are excited to announce the 3rdAnnual Monte Carlo Gala on Friday, September 13, at the Pleasant Hill Community Center. This year’s theme is The Great Gatsby, so all who attend are encouraged to dress in the style of the Roaring Twenties. This event is held in honor of the memory of Debbie Smith’s son Matthew Carrington, who was killed in a water torture hazing ritual while pledging a fraternity at Chico State in 2005.

“I am excited to be able to announce that for the third year in a row and in the month of September, which is Anti-Hazing Awareness Month in Pleasant Hill, we are able to come together as a community to raise the needed funds to help educate younger people on what hazing is, what it looks like, how to prevent it, and how to say no to it,” said Debbie Smith. “This year we are privileged to have families that have been effected by hazing through the loss of a child, as well as survivors of hazing in attendance at the gala. 

Debbie Smith founded the AHA! Movement after the death of her son, and she has successfully developed a speaking series for colleges, high schools, the military, and service organizations to teach the dangers of hazing. The AHA! Movements Middle School Program is the newest series, developed in 2019, in part from a grant from Macy’s. The middle school program was created to educate pre-teen youth in an age appropriate way to show how hazing is introduced during the formative years.

“By the time our children go off to college, they have already been indoctrinated into the ritual of hazing -- they just don’t always know it. Hazing starts subtly as early as pre-school, unbeknownst to our children and their parents, so early on it is accepted as normal. Our goal with the new program is to give middle school children the tools to identify hazing at its basic level, make them aware of where it can lead, and empower them to use their voice, because they ALWAYS have a choice to say no to it.”

Debbie has worked tirelessly for 14 years to spread the message of the dangers of hazing in all its forms, starting with working with California State Senator Tom Torlakson to create Matt’s law, which was signed in to California law in 2006 by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, making it a felony to cause the death of someone resulting from hazing. In 2015, Debbie created the AHA! Movement, a non-profit established to educate our young people on the dangers of hazing.

“Our children are our greatest gift. No parent, sibling, grandparent, or friend should have to experience the loss of a loved one for such a senseless reason as hazing. The more exposure we give to the dangers of hazing, the more our ability to save another child can increase.”Tickets for “AHA’s Great Gatsby Gala” can be obtained by visiting http://ahamovement.orgContact Debbie to book her for speaking engagements at 209.470.7116 or at [email protected]