Record-Breaking Gala4Goals on Same Night as Record-Breaking Snowfall
Even a record-breaking winter storm which dumped just short of a foot of snow on the Twin Cities over the course of two days wasn't enough to stop the raging success of the record-breaking 2018 The Sanneh Foundation's Gala4Goals, held Saturday, February 24, at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. Over 1,200 people braved the snow and the cold to support the Foundation, the largest crowd ever assembled in the event's eight-year history.
As the thermometer registering the temperature rapidly dropped outside, the thermometer recording donations inside Gala4Goals heated up to a mercury-busting $660,000, topping event organizers' evening goal of raising $650,000.
When asked why he thought this year's event broke all previous records, The Sanneh Foundation Founder and CEO, Tony Sanneh, said, "It's all about the thousands of people embracing our mission of bringing people together and uniting communities. There's a tide turning where everyone is beginning to realize the great things we can do if we work together. I am so proud of our sponsors and everyone who helped make this year's gala a success."
During the evening, co-emcees Roxane Battle and Adam Gislason provided a relaxed, yet entertaining platform for a seamless array of dignitaries to heat up the stage, including St. Paul Mayor, Melvin Carter; Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey; event co-chairs, Atomic Data CEO, Jim Wolford and THOR Companies CEO, Ravi Norman; along with several public officials who received Certificates of Appreciation, including numerous state senators and House of Representatives members who authored current or former successful appropriations bills which have been signed into law by Minnesota Governor, Mark Dayton. Representative Jenifer Loon spoke passionately about the importance of mentorship opportunities in Minnesota.
Remarks made by event co-chair Jim Wolford seemed to echo the warm sentiments of all who were in attendance when Wolford said, "As long as I am CEO of Atomic Data, we will continue to support Tony and The Sanneh Foundation, next year, the following year, and in 30 years to come." Co-chair Ravi Norman, made the same pledge and used his time on stage to urge a new appreciation for an expanded, diversified, and skilled Minnesota workforce.
Yet, it was the electrifying, personality-laden dance troupe, Conway Cheer Team, comprised of girls, ages 8-14, who really took the crowd by storm, brought the masses to their feet, and immediately captured the hearts of those in attendance.
The event was punctuated by the delectable delights of nationally renowned Chef David Fhima, with guests enjoying the top chef's creation of Moroccan Seasonal Salad with an original culinary masterpiece exclusively prepared for the event, Gala4Goals Spiced Chicken.
Gala4Goals program also included a silent auction, live auction, and honoring 2017 TSF Board Members of the Year, Dave Rust and Stacey Ray-Akyea; 2017 Staff Members of the Year, Evan Bell, Leanna Larson, and Melanie Cobb; 2017 Volunteer of the Year, Hannah Jones; 2017 Delorez Houle Soccer Mom of the Year Award, Evelyn Tembli; and 2017 Stephanie Dillon Most Inspirational Award, Jerry "Gigi" Oates.
The evening was rounded out by a star-studded after party at the RiverCentre which had guests lamenting the fact the party lights were officially dimmed at 11:30 pm until Gala4Goals 2019.