The Immokalee Foundation’s 2013 Charity Classic Celebration has been declared an undeniable success by organizers of the annual fundraising event to benefit the youth of Immokalee. The Charity Classic Celebration included a memorable evening of dinner and dancing, a “super” silent auction and the unique Fund A Dream live bidding experience for nearly 400 guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, as well as the annual Pro-Am golf tournament at Bay Colony Golf Club that brought many of golf’s most esteemed names to Southwest Florida.
The events raised a combined total of more than $1.7 million to fund TIF’s educational programs.
This year’s theme encouraged benefactors to follow the “Pathways to Success: Voices of the Future” to support TIF’s mission in providing sustained educational opportunities that make goals achievable for Immokalee’s children, and that’s exactly what they did.
During the gala’s welcome reception, attendees bid on an incredible selection of “super” silent auction items while listening to the sounds of talented students from The Immokalee Foundation. The silent auction raised $160,000 and served as an indicator of the forthcoming generosity.
The evening provided the opportunity for patrons to not only meet and mingle with the students whose lives they were impacting, but they also had the chance to hear what life is like in Immokalee, as students and their families shared their stories of hope and determination.
Peter Negri, TIF board member and Charity Classic Celebration chair, said the presentation gave patrons a sense of the challenges these children face and what they’ve been able to achieve through TIF and its programs.
“The kids, by far, are the best part of the evening,” said Negri. “To see and hear about how far they’ve come and what they’ve been able to accomplish makes it all worthwhile.”
The live Fund A Dream auction got under way during the second half of the dinner. With paddles in hand, bidders had the option to bid at the level of their choice, and to fund many dreams.
Fund A Dream was organized into five specific categories. Each one provided students with opportunities to grow, learn and advance with opportunities like attending a College Success boot camp, tutoring, attending a professional baseball game (a first for many) or taking part in career and networking seminars. Donors were even able to provide students with college scholarships, literacy enhancement, career development and experiences to build leadership and life skills. According to Negri, 100 percent of the funds raised during Fund A Dream go directly to the bidders category of choice and is 100 percent tax deductible.
Thanks to the generosity of numerous paddle raisers, Fund A Dream raised $645,000 – a number for which Negri is particularly proud, “It’s special because they aren’t bidding on a trip or piece of jewelry. The real reward for all these people raising their paddles is seeing the difference they are making in the life of a child.”
Negri credits the unwavering support of the TIF board members, staff, volunteers, mentors, Charity Classic Celebration sponsors and generous audience members for the success of the event, “There’s a real sense of pride in what we’ve been able to accomplish, because it all comes back to the kids.”
Sponsors of the 2013 Charity Classic Celebration and Pro-Am were Arthrex Inc., hope society; Fifth Third Bank, founding sponsor; Jaguar Naples; Porsche of Naples; Bigham Jewelers, education circle sponsors; Naples Illustrated, media sponsor; and Kevin Johnson with Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. Corporate matching sponsors were GE Foundation and Caterpillar Foundation.
The Immokalee Foundation has a range of programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary training, mentoring and tutoring, and opportunities for broadening experiences, life skills development and economic independence. To learn more about TIF, the Charity Classic Celebration, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.