50th Anniversary Gala Raises A Record $8 Million

Gretchen and Amb. Howard Leach

Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s 50th Anniversary Gala – The Winter Ball raised a record-breaking $8 million for Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County on Friday, April 8. Event Chair Gretchen Leach successfully led the charge, joined by Co-Chairs Tom Quick, Jean and Tom Rutherfoord and Helen and Charles Schwab. During the Moroccan-themed gala, Julie and Mike Connors announced a $5 million lead gift to build a new West Palm Beach, Fla. Boys & Girls Club. Additional proceeds raised during the Gala benefit critical hunger-relief and other life-changing programs provided at 17 Boys & Girls Clubs strategically located throughout Palm Beach County.

Gretchen and Amb. Howard Leach
Gretchen and Amb. Howard Leach- Capehart Photography

“Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach Country does a remarkable job of helping the young people in this community,” said event Chairman Gretchen Leach. “The guests at the Winter Ball came to support this worthy cause. It was a truly outstanding evening where everyone was happy, festive and generous. They danced the night away and contributed record-breaking donations to make the evening a smashing success. It was an honor for me to serve as Chairman.”

Jaene Miranda, Comm. Christina Lambert and Julie and Mike Connors
Jaene Miranda, Comm. Christina Lambert and Julie and Mike Connors – Capehart Photography

The annual black-tie event, one of the most prominent and well-attended galas of the Palm Beach social season, began with a cocktail hour in the Mediterranean Ballroom, followed by a sit-down dinner in the Venetian Ballroom. Both ballrooms were elaborately decorated in rich colors and theatrically enhanced with professional belly dancers to help transport guests to a Moroccan oasis. Those in attendance enjoyed a special performance by Boys & Girls Club members who sang “God Bless America”. Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s 2021 Youth of the Year, Anajiah Graham, gave a heartfelt speech highlighting the Clubs’ impact on her life. Prior to dancing the night away with the help of Bob Hardwick’s big band dance orchestra, guests participated in a lively and exciting auction presented by Tom Quick and Reid Boren.

Pandemic recovery continues in neighborhoods that Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County serve as 95% of Club members now live in poverty. The Clubs’ hunger-relief, mentoring and resiliency programs are critical for children who depend on the services of the Boys & Girls Clubs.  In 2021, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County distributed more than 675,000 nutritious meals to children who otherwise would have gone hungry.

Wilbur and Hilary Ross with Carol and Tom Kirchhoff
Wilbur and Hilary Ross with Carol and Tom Kirchhoff – Capehart Photography

“It was exciting to be in the same room with all of our amazing supporters at this year’s Gala,” said President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County Jaene Miranda. “We are grateful that this record-breaking event led by Chairman, Gretchen Leach, will allow our Clubs to continue to serve 10,000 of the neediest children in our area. The effects of the last two years along with the rising cost of food and labor are addressed through our Clubs’ programming which are crucial to the communities we serve.  Thanks to the generosity shown by our supporters, our Club members will be able to continue to focus on reaching their full potential.”

The surprise announcement of the $5-million-dollar lead gift from Julie and Mike Connors to build a new Club was made by West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James. Mayor James thanked the Connors for their generosity in allowing a second Boys & Girls Club to be built and serve the children of West Palm Beach, Fla. Plans call for a 25,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility in District 5 near Southern Boulevard to help the estimated 500 future Club members remain on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future.

Tom Quick, Jeannie and Tom Rutherfoord
Tom Quick, Jeannie and Tom Rutherfoord – Capehart Photography

“The Connors’ gift to build a new Club was the ‘icing on the cake’ for this milestone year,” said Miranda. “Thanks to the Connors’ unwavering philanthropy, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County will be able to expand to help even more children that need us most in our community. Without the support of amazing donors like the Connors, and generosity and leadership of individuals like Gretchen Leach, our Clubs would be unable to fulfill our mission.”

Honorary Chairmen of The 50th Anniversary Gala–The Winter Ball include Julie and Mike Connors, Lydia and Robert Forbes, Mary and Mark Freitas, Hillie Mahoney, Hon. Danielle Moore, Amanda and Charles Schumacher, Hon. Lesly S. Smith, Eddy and John Taylor, and Betsy and Wally Turner.

 Lois Pope and Bill Porter
Lois Pope and Bill Porter – Capehart Photography

Over 50 supporters served as vice chairmen to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Winter Ball and the organization. Vice Chairmen included Mary Randolph Ballinger, Olympia and Brooks Bishop, James Borynack and Adolfo Zaralegui, Paula and Robert Butler, Kim and Payson Coleman, Wendy and Howard Cox, Brittain and John Damgard, Maureen Donnell, David Donten, Debbie and Bob Dunkin, Emilia and Pepe Fanjul, Hon. David and Jennifer Fischer, Lois and Jeff Fiser, Kay Gilman, Audrey and Martin Gruss, Jennifer and Chris Harris, Mai Hallingby Harrison, Allie Hanley, Ann and Charles Johnson, Elizabeth L. Johnson, Jorie Butler Kent, Carol and Tom Kirchhoff, Talbot Maxey, Grace and Chris Meigher, Priscilla and Don Miller, Anne Neville, Jane and Carl Panattoni, Kit Pannill, Susan and Chris Pappas, Amy and John Phelan, Sallie B. Phillips, Pauline Pitt and Gerry Seay, Vera Serrano, Betsy and Paul Shiverick, Christine and Bob Stiller, Felicia Taylor and Peter Gottsegen, Simone and Kerry Vickr, and Lynne McGowan Wheat and Thomas Peterffy.

Charles and Helen Schwab Ann and Charles Johnson Lynne Wheat and Thomas Peterffy Andrea and Steven Wynn

Row 1: Charles and Helen Schwab, Ann and Charles Johnson, Lynne Wheat and Thomas Peterffy and Andrea and Steven Wynn -Capehart Photography

Amb. David and Jennifer Fischer Eddy and John Taylor with Tricia Quick Olympia and Brooks Bishop Paul and Betsy Shiverick

Row 2: Amb. David and Jennifer Fischer, Eddy and John Taylor with Tricia Quick, Olympia and Brooks Bishop and Paul and Betsy Shiverick -Capehart Photography

Hon. Danielle Moore and Phillip Tilearcio Chris and Jennifer Harris Cindy and Chris Galvin Amy and John Phelan

Row 3: Hon. Danielle Moore and Phillip Tilearcio, Chris and Jennifer Harris, Cindy and Chris Galvin and Amy and John Phelan – Capehart Photography

To make a donation for critical programming at Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, click on the button below.

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