Announcing AFE and Rio Roses Virtual Mask-erade Photo Contest Winner!

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) transformed their Annual Fundraising Dinner into a Virtual Mask-erade Event featuring Photo Contest sponsored by Rio Roses

Alexandria, Virginia, October 1, 2020 – In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the American Floral Endowment transformed their Annual Fundraising Dinner into a Virtual Mask-erade, which featured a photo contest sponsored by Rio Roses. The contest ran from August until mid-September and encouraged participants to use their Giving to Grow event mask to design their own mask-erade look. The best mask-erade photo wins 50 stems of Rio Roses sent to them monthly for an entire year starting this month!  Out of over 90 entries, Cactus Flower Florists in Scottsdale, Arizona won and will be receiving FREE roses for a YEAR! Rio Roses conducted scoring based on design technique/creativity, uniqueness, and location/background. Presenting the winning mask-erade look is Cactus Flower’s mask model and Event Designer, Jackie Lee:  The American Floral Endowment’s Manager of Communications and Outreach, Karin Krause, spoke with some of the Cactus Flower Florists’ team, President & Owner, Eric Luoma, and Head Designer, Phil Dickinson, to learn a bit more about why he supported the Giving to Grow Virtual Mask-erade, what inspired the winning mask-erade design, and get a better understanding of Cactus Flower’s background. 

Q. Why did you get involved in AFE’s Giving to Grow Virtual Mask-erade?

A. “My friend and fellow florist, Ken Young, asked Cactus Flower Florists to support the American Floral Endowment by participating in the Giving to Grow Virtual Mask-erade to give back during this challenging time,” said Luoma. “I jumped at the chance and asked our design team to curate elegant mask décor that we could not only share with fellow florists, but to our own clientele in the Scottsdale area.”

As a member of our Board of Trustees, Ken Young, regularly promotes AFE’s events and initiatives to his network in the floral industry. AFE is extremely grateful for all of the Board’s efforts, which ensured that our mask-erade was a success. 

Q. Why did Cactus Flower Florists choose to support AFE?

A. Luoma noted, “When my parents Fred and Sharron Luoma opened our doors in 1972, AFE was already educating florists across the country on how we could be stewards of our floral community. AFE continues this today by providing scholarships to floral professionals, chain of life training to keep flowers beautiful for longer and research programs for our future. My sister, Kristina Dyrr, and I support AFE because AFE supports us, our family business, and betters the floral community.” 

This upcoming year will actually mark AFE’s 60th anniversary of supporting the floral industry through scholarships, internships, grants, and other industry programs. The funding from the Virtual Mask-erade will go help fund these initiatives along with new research and development during a time when the industry especially needs the ability to adapt and face new challenges. 

Q. What inspired your mask design and photo?

A. “I was inspired by the colors of our Arizona sunsets and paired the mask with a bridal bouquet being created in the design room by our mask model/event designer Jackie Lee. The result was an elegant design using succulents, spray roses and hints of eucalyptus,” said Dickinson. “Cactus Flower Florists is dedicated to creating standout floral designs for our discerning clients and now proud to bring that beauty to face masks!” 

Here’s a closer look at the beautiful sunset mask design: The American Floral Endowment and Rio Roses congratulate the Cactus Flower Florists team on their win and look forward to seeing what creative designs they create with their monthly delivery of free roses. We are grateful for the continued support from the floral industry and thank each of our participants for joining our virtual event. AFE looks forward to continuing to pay it forward through providing research, funds, and resources; we couldn’t do it without the commitment of our community. To learn more about AFE or how you can support floriculture programs, visit

Thank You to AFE’s 2020 Dinner Sponsors >>
See ALL of the 2020 Mask-erade Photos >>

About the Virtual Mask-erade Dinner

The American Floral Endowment has been serving the floral industry for 59 years with 44 years of our annual fundraising dinner and they want to continue the streak. This annual dinner is an important and vital fundraising event that helps offset administrative expenses so that more of AFE’s contributions can be used to fund research and programs to help grow the industry. The Endowment is currently funding 12 research projects and 29 annual scholarships totaling over $800,000 000 in research initiatives, educational grants, scholarships, and internships.

About American Floral Endowment

The American Floral Endowment is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the floriculture and horticulture industry through funding research, educational grants and scholarships. Since 1961, more than $16 million has been funded in research and educational projects, and more than $3 million has been funded in scholarships and internships designed to attract and retain the future leaders of the industry. To learn more about AFE or how you can support floriculture programs, visit  

About Rio Roses

For the past three decades, the privately-owned Equiflor has been a leading fresh flower grower and distributor in the region. They hand grow and carefully nurture each plant to provide the highest quality flowers every time. What started as a family business in 1986 has flourished into a household name, with the nationally branded, fresh-cut “Rio Roses” distributed via a network of flower wholesalers across the US and Canada. From a state-of-the-art distribution center near Miami International Airport, the growth, importation, distribution, and marketing of roses, carnations, and specialty flowers are carefully managed from the major growing regions of the world.

About Cactus Flower Florists

Since 1972, Cactus Flower Florists has been serving the metro Phoenix area with beautiful floral design and matchless service. From a single store on Scottsdale Road to five locations throughout the Valley, Cactus Flower has bloomed into Arizona’s leading florist and is celebrating nearly 50 years in the Valley! Cactus Flower started as a family-owned and operated business, including brother and sister Eric Luoma and Kristina Dyrr who grew up watering plants and running deliveries. Today, Eric and Kristina run the daily operations of Cactus Flower.

By Karin Krause, AFE’s Manager of Communications & Outreach