Events, General

Meet Our 2020 STAR Gala Co-chairs

Carrie Cooney and Laura Georgelos

When someone volunteers to chair a gala of the magnitude of the STARability Foundation’s STAR Gala, her passion and commitment are evident. Even more special? When she chairs it again. And when not one but two returning leaders come together, stellar things happen. Meet the 2020 STAR Gala co-chairs, Carrie Cooney and Laura Georgelos.

“We’re planning a spectacular event again this year,” Georgelos says, “filled with fresh entertainment, new live and silent auction items, and plenty of surprises to transport all the attendees into a world of exciting, feel-good moments.”

In a town where worthy fundraisers take place almost daily during season, the STARability Foundation turned heads last year when the STAR Gala sold out at 500 attendees and raised more than $760,000. This year, the gala committee and the two dedicated women at the helm are determined to top $1 million.

As parents of STARability participants Brett Cooney and Tori Georgelos, Cooney and Georgelos recognize that the future and longevity of STARability are critical for the hundreds of families in Naples like their own who are seeking meaningful experiences for their loved ones with disabilities.

“Not only is the gala our biggest source of revenue,” says Cooney, also 1st vice president of STARability’s board of directors, “it also brings awareness to the community on what we do here and the importance of that. We’re the only organization in Collier County that’s doing what we are doing—servicing adults with disabilities.”

The co-chairs promise guests will be inspired, enlightened and simply have a wonderful time at the gala, which has grown into a can’t-miss event in recent years.

For example, Georgelos says the theatrics surrounding the purchase of your champagne will be the talk of the town. Each $50 glass purchased gives you a chance to win the coveted Diamond Drop prize—an exquisite ring from Crown Jewelers valued at $8,000. Past years have seen the champagne delivered by aerialists, “living” tables and more, so this year guarantees quite a sight.

“You won’t want to miss it,” Cooney teases. And this year the number of glasses is capped at 150, so you’ll want to purchase your glass early to secure your chances.

Every dollar raised at the STAR Gala stays goes right back into local STARability programming, Cooney adds, unlike some other Naples events held for local chapters of national organizations.

“We’re growing fast,” she says. “It’s a good thing, but it’s challenging. And that’s why we need the support of the community and the people at the gala, to continue to grow our programs so we can service more individuals.”

“Our adult children are capable and seek a life that includes independence and activities all their own,” says Georgelos. “They just need a guiding light of supporters to get them on their path, and STARability shines that light for them.”

For more information on how to support the STAR Gala, please visit


Click here for a preview of this year’s exciting live auction lots.


The co-chairs would like to thank the generous individuals, businesses and organizations who share STARability’s vision of an inclusive and engaged community. Become a sponsor or underwriter of the 2020 STAR Gala and join those helping us to transform lives, such as: 24-Karat Title Sponsors HEMPZ and Cosway Company; 18-Karat Sponsors Stofft Cooney Architects, Ralph & Tina Goldin, and Waterside Shops; 14-Karat Sponsors Kurtz Homes Naples and Woods, Weidenmiller, Michetti & Rudnick; Yellow Gold Sponsors Ken & Judy Gilman and Neurology Office, Joseph Kandel M.D. & Associates; White Gold Sponsors Lisa Kahn Designs, Old Republic Title and Marc Shapiro Law Firm; Décor Underwriters Calusa Bay Design and Knauf-Koenig Group; Program Underwriter BCB Homes; Auction Underwriter Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management; and Invitation Underwriter U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.