With more than 700 attendees and 72 corporate sponsors, the 35th Annual Benefit Dinner was a huge success.
The newly-renovated Arcadia Ballroom at the Radisson Plaza Hotel was filled to capacity on September 24 with Big Brothers Big Sisters supporters who had the privilege of hearing from three sports’ legends: Tom Izzo, Michigan State University’s men’s basketball coach; Mateen Cleaves, former MSU All American and current NBA television analyst; and Billy Gernon, Western Michigan University’s baseball coach.
All three of the speakers shared inspiring messages about the importance of mentoring. Izzo said that success depends upon effective leadership, whether on the basketball court, in a corporation or in the community. “I think we are all coaches in our own respect because we have to try to figure out a way to help make people better than we really are, and that’s what leaders do,” Izzo says.
Gernon has been an avid supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters for years and encourages his players to volunteer as Big Brothers. This year, more than half of the WMU baseball team has stepped forward to mentor boys in the community.
Since 1978, the Annual Benefit Dinner has played an important role in providing funding to help the agency match vulnerable children with caring, supportive and consistent mentors and to provide ongoing support to more than 1,300 matches annually. Each year, the money raised at the Benefit Dinner accounts for approximately one-third of the agency’s annual budget.
“Our Annual Benefit Dinner helps make it possible for us to achieve our mission of providing children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever,” says Deb Buchholtz, executive director.
“We are grateful to the Benefit Dinner committee for its work, the corporate sponsors for their support and to the dinner attendees,” Buchholtz says. “This Benefit Dinner was a huge success because of this unprecedented support.”