Yesterday? Was my biggest fundraiser of the year.
We’re talking: over 1,100 guests, 113 tables, 11 speakers in one hour, and a fundraising goal of $875,000.
YOU GUYS! I BLEW MY OWN MIND!
We raised $926,122 (and counting).
I can hardly believe it. This event has never raised this much. I’ve never managed an event that raised this much.
I throw everything I have into this event. I work one-on-one with each speaker helping them craft their story and coaching them on public speaking. I meet them at coffee shops and their houses, wherever and whenever they can meet, because they are the reason people give generously. They are the reason we do what we do at the non-profit we work for. Each of them tells me they want to give back because we’ve helped them so much. There is nothing more rewarding.
Last year we had Patti LaBelle and while she drew some people to the luncheon, those people came because they wanted to see/meet a celebrity, not because they wanted to help foster kids (my opinion based on the fact they didn’t return this year and they didn’t give very generously at the event). This year I had a local guy, former baseball player and foster care alumni, speak who charmed the crowd. I mean we were going over on time and no one was leaving the room, they were so engaged. There was also a foster mom of 15 years who has raised 20 kids, a brave and adorable 10 year old who got up on stage and sang “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera (and got a standing ovation), a set of charming, funny twin brothers who are both star athletes, a shy and resilient young man who came to America 3 years ago from The Congo speaking no English and is now about to graduate from high school and go to college, and an amazing young woman with a heartbreaking and inspiring story of triumph over adversity. Most of these kids were the first in their families to be accepted to college, many were the first to graduate high school. Each of these people got into my heart. When I called them up to tell them how much they helped us raise, there was lots of whooping and hollering and pride.
When I stop and think about what we accomplished, I cry. This work is so amazing and so important and I’m so damn proud to be a part of it and be making a difference with what I do. The praise is rolling in. People were stopping me in the ballroom to hug me and tell me congratulations. Others are emailing their praise to me and my bosses. I’m so terrible at receiving compliments but I’m going to try to take it all in. And I’ll probably cry some more.
My guest speaker, the former baseball player, talked about his grandma who was a tremendous influence on him. As a kid, they used to have huge Thanksgiving feasts with enough food to feed an army. After everyone was stuffed, she’d pack it all up and fill up her Lincoln Continental and drive them all with the leftovers down where all the homeless congregated and pass out food from the back of her car. He asked her, “Why do you care, Grandma?” And she told him, “Honey, someone’s got to.”
Yeah, that’s it right there, isn’t it?