Big Night Gala Raises Over $350,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities

May 10, 2019 , Jennifer Severson

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Big Night Gala shattered its previous fundraising record, raising over $350,000 to support the nearly 4,000 Twin Cities kids served annually by the organization. The event, attended by a sold-out crowd of 450 attendees, was held on Thursday, April 25.

Guests enjoyed hearing current Littles talk about their hopes and dreams for their futures. A special video shared the story of how Houston White and Dan Connolly’s match helped ignite White’s potential as a future community leader. White, a former Little Brother, is a well-known entrepreneur in the Camden Town neighborhood of Minneapolis and owns H. White Men’s Room (HWMR).

Big Night featured KARE 11’s Kiya Edwards and former Match local entrepreneur Houston White and attorney Dan Connolly

“Big Night is both a celebration of the power of mentoring and a reminder of the potential within each and every child,” Pat Cooper, BBBS Board Chair, said. “Today’s youth and teens are our future and it’s our responsibility to ensure they have the tools and support needed to reach their full potential.”

Cooper touted the 92 percent graduation rate for high school kids enrolled in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities program.

Kiya Edwards, reporter for KARE 11’s Sunrise, inspired and energized Big Night guests as the evening’s emcee. Edwards, who grew up in Minneapolis, invited current Little Brothers and Little Sisters to the stage before sharing her story as a former Little Sister.

Edwards received an Annexstad Scholarship through BBBS and graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Theater Arts. She returned to the Twin Cities in June 2018. Edwards is still in touch with her Big Sister and in early 2019 was matched with a Little Sister through BBBS.

In addition to the dinner and program, Big Night featured live and silent auctions, raffles and games. This year’s highest-selling live auction item was a private dinner for 10 with Minnesota Viking Safety Harrison Smith and Twin Cities’ chef David Fihma. Smith has been an advocate for Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities since he signed with the Vikings in 2012. Fhima, a well-known Twin Cities restaurateur, will host the group at his historic Lowry Hill mansion. The lucky winner also received a Smith’s game-worn, signed “Big Brothers Big Sisters” cleats from last season’s My Cleats, My Cause football game.

The Golden Ticket raffle, which allowed buyers to win one of the coveted live auction items, was won by Godson Sowan, who chose the Hawaiian Haven Vacation to Maui. Kurt Johnson Auctioneering amped up the crowd with their entertaining and engaging bid-calling for the live auction and “Support-a-Match” fundraising. Support-a-Match raised just shy of $100,000 for the first time in the organization’s history.

This year’s event was held in the newly expanded event space at The Depot in Downtown Minneapolis. The Jazz Mentors entertained the crowd during dinner.

Federated Insurance was the 2019 Presenting Sponsor.

Gold Sponsors included 3M, API Group, Atomic Data and EY. Silver Sponsors were Accredited Investors Wealth Management, C.H. Robinson, Comcast, Faegre Baker Daniels, High Five, McCollum Crowley , Minnesota Timberwolves & Lynx, Rick and Karyn Penn, Plus Relocation, Protiviti and PwC.

The evening’s Bronze Sponsors included Artis REIT, Amy and Miles Fiterman, Greiner Construction & Gensler Minneapolis, Mike and Cindy LeSage, Life Time, Lockridge Grindal Nauen, SUCCESS Computer Consulting; and Village Bank.