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2019 Star Gala – Thank You

Our 2019 STAR Gala: Dazzling Diamond Soirée was a record-breaking success, with total proceeds of over $750,000 thanks to your generosity and support. We raised $528,012 at the March 9 event through your bids for auction items, purchases of Diamond Drop champagne, member art and crystal tattoos. Pre-gala sponsorships, underwriting, and donations of $220,000 rounded out the total, bringing in 52 percent more than last year and nearly doubling our total in 2017. We are so grateful to each and every one of you for your support!

The Star Gala shines light on the over 270 individuals and their families who need STARability’s innovative quality programs that provide social, vocational and educational connections to the community while strengthening awareness and respect for individual abilities.

“The outpouring of acknowledgment and support was electrifying! The generosity of the guests was overwhelming – Lou and I watched those paddles raise through tear-filled eyes as we recognize the magnitude of these donations,” said Laura Georgelos, co-chair of the Dazzling Diamond Soiree with her husband, Lou. 

“We are so grateful for STARability’s Trailblazer Academy and other programs and services for our daughter, Tori. Without them, we wouldn’t have moved here from Chicago,” she added.

With high-energy, sparkling aerial performances by Pzazz Productions during the cocktail hour and throughout dinner, attendees were enthralled and energized as emcee Stacey Deffenbaugh of NBC-2 reminded them of the mission of the night.

“This organization was created 36 years ago by parents and it’s been driven mostly by moms who are seeking out innovative programs to help their loved ones stay active, engaged and connected to the community,” she said. “We’re here to shine light on ability, not disability.”

Between selling out of sponsorships, underwriting opportunities and seats, the 2019 Gala was poised for a stellar night as the organization’s annual fundraiser. 

The auction, featuring more than 55 silent and super silent items as well as eight spectacular live packages, brought in $528,012, with sponsorships, underwriting, ticket sales and straight donations of more than $220,000 rounding out the total proceeds.

The most sparkly, diamond-shaped paddles were raised during the evening’s Fund-A-Need appeal, which was kicked off by STARability member Joe Shirley, 36, who introduced “Diamonds,” a short video produced by Emmy-award-winning Manta Films about STARability’s programs. CLICK HERE to watch video.

“I want you to see why I wake up with a smile on my face every morning,” said Shirley, who earned a standing ovation after telling the crowd that being a Trailblazer recently helped him get two jobs. 

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity and support that was displayed at the 2019 Star Gala,” said STARability Executive Director Karen Govern. “This was a record-breaking event in every way – from the number of sponsors and underwriters and ticket sales that made it a sold-out event, to the amount raised at the auction and fund-a-need. Our chairs, Laura & Lou Georgelos, together with their wonderful committee, created an unforgettable experience for the guests. Most importantly, they inspired a level of giving that will do so much to support our over 270 STARability members and the life-transforming programs and resources that they rely on every day.”

THANK YOU SPONSORS & UNDERWRITERS

CLICK HERE to see the full list and the links to our sponsors.

THANK YOU DONORS & IN-KIND DONORS

DONORS: Dominic Altobelli; Christian & Laurie Andrea; Ronald & Jill Bellestri; Vace Braxton; Bruce & Deborah Brocker; Stuart & Sherry Buck; Tim & Patti Byers; Corinne Cassaday; John & Carrie Cooney; Mike & Maureen Dalton; Ann Drury; Andy & Mary Lou Farsell; Jim France; Dr. Thomas Gallanis; Joe & Laura Genta; Jamie Gregor; Denny & Janet Hartman; Craig & Josee Hazelett; Kevin & Roseanita Iepson; Dr. Joseph & Merrylee Kandel; Arnold & Barbara Karp; Koby & Erwin Kirwin; Vincent A. & Debra Maffeo; John & Kim Maloney; Mark & Patricia Martel; Michael McCumber; Edward & Shirley Menefee; Rob & Sandra Moher; Mara Mooney; Josephine A. Morse; Kelly & Kathryn Moynihan; Ronnie & Gayle Nall; John Nassos; Stuart Nassos; Newbury North Associates; Jerry & Eleanor Parsons; Mary Ann & Bill Payne; Robert & Rosalina Pegnato; Sherwood Forest Foundation Fund; Don & Nancy Stoner; Pamela & Fred Stoner; Darlene Wakefield; Bob & Jama Wall; Wells Fargo Advisors

IN-KIND DONORS: Absher Design Group, Inc.; AEG Presents; Aesthetic Treatment Centers; Air Bar; Alternative Health Massage & Body Work; Animalife Veterinary Center; Arsenault Studio & Banyan Arts Gallery; Artis – Naples; Axiom Fine Art; Bigham Jewelers; Bonefish Grill; Boston Red Sox; C & S Artistry; Captain Hunter Robertson; Captain Redfish Rob’s Charters; Carolina Catering; City Mattress and PranaSleep; Matan Cohen; John & Carrie Cooney; Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Donald DiLauro; Jerry & Dolores Dorsch; DoubleTree Suites by Hilton; Driftwood Garden Center; Earthwise Pet; Fleming’s; Florida Community Bank; Jeanette Gallanis; Valerie & Jeff Gargiulo; Lou & Laura Georgelos; Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples; Goodness for Pets; Greenberg’s Jewelers; Grey Oaks Country Club; Gulfshore Clothier & Joe Genta; Gyrotonic of Naples; Heather Donlan Photography; Eric Heitmann; House of Blondes; Humane Society Naples; Kent V. Hasen, MD; Inferno Mixed Martial Arts; Lash Love Naples; M Waterfront Grille; Marissa Collections; Mary Smallwood Designs; Tammy Miloro; Kelly & Kathy Moynihan; Nancy Ross; Naples Bay Resort & Marina; Naples Bay Water Shuttle; Naples Botanical Garden; Neurology Office, Joseph M. Kandel, MD; Stuart Nassos; Oakes Farms Market; Paragon Theaters; Petunias of Naples; Porsche of Naples; ProAm Tennis & Pickleball; Quail Creek Country Club; Reel Kind; Republic of Décor; Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples; Salon Bamboo Aveda; Salon Delphine Spa; Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise; Scott Causey; Scuba Outfitters of Naples; Shula’s; Simple Beauty Studio; Soulfull Living; Larry & Sherry Stoller; Sweet Liberty; Tavern on Rush/Stefani Restaurant Group; The Capital Grille Naples; The Hampton Social; The Naples Players; Tommy Bahama; Tropical Design Glass Art; VictoriaLand Beauty; Wasserman; Waterside Shops; Yard House; Zazou

THANK YOU 2019 STAR GALA COMMITTEE

Laura Georgelos (Chair); Lisa Absher; Allison Baker; Mary Ann Beirne; Patti Byers; Corinne Cassaday; Carrie Cooney; Karen Govern; Jenny Haire; Lisa Kahn; Merrylee Kandel; Elizabeth Kurtz; Kathy Moynihan; Victoria Watts; Rick Gallo (Auctioneer)

THANK YOU EVENT COORDINATORS

EVENT DECOR – GARDEN DISTRICT: Stunning visual design by Rufino Hernandez of the Garden District, mesmerized the crowd with fresh, white rosebuds and fairy lights in the cocktail area and dazzling silver palm displays in the dining room. A Naples native, Hernandez wore a sparkly jacket and joined STARability members, staff, volunteers, family and friends in dancing the night away.

EVENT ENTERTAINMENT – PZAZZ PRODUCTIONS: PJ Fuerstman Meyer, of Pzazz Productions, made the event truly spectacular and memorable with an aerialist serving champagne, cabaret performances and world class acrobatic dancing. Based in Naples, Pzazz sparks up corporate and philanthropic events across the globe. 

EVENT BRANDING & VOLUNTEER COORDINATION – ABSHER DESIGN GROUP: Absher Design Group, the agency-on-record, effectively communicated a cohesive branded campaign of marketing elements. The diamond-themed campaign included: a save-the-date postcard, a foil-stamped invitation, banner ads, website pages, email templates, social media graphics, and posts, matching magazine and newspaper print ads, all leading up to the event. This campaign continued with a comprehensive program of volunteer coordination of 25+ volunteer crew and a dazzling keynote presentation, banner signage for auction offers, “Thank You” sponsor signs (including the sponsor per level signs held in the dance presentations), directional signage, as well as a live bidding site. The creative campaign at each touch point contributed to the success of the experience for attendees before, during and after the event.

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