Galas go virtual

While dozens of nonprofit fundraisers have either been postponed or canceled thanks to COVID-19, some organizations are taking advantage of the power of the internet and going virtual this spring.


JDRF won’t stop believin’

In place of its annual Cincinnatian of the Year Gala, JDRF Southwest Ohio is moving online.

“We’re incredibly disappointed to not be able to host the gala in person for the first time in its 36-year history,” said Executive Director Melissa Newman. “While we’ve never done this before, our team has put together an amazing virtual gala experience that we think people will really enjoy.”

Emcee Bob Herzog of Local 12 with JDRF Executive Director Melissa Newman at the 2019 gala

The virtual gala will be accessible to anyone, anywhere, free of charge. Featured experiences include a cocktail demonstration from Molly Wellmann, an opening performance from last season’s “American Idol” top 8 finalist Drake McCain, and cooking demos from T1D blogger Moira McCarthy Stanford and Duke Energy Convention Center Executive Chef Purvill Cheney.

The band Naked Karate Girls will provide a two-hour live benefit streaming concert of 80’s hits, and DJ E-Trayn will take requests live via social media during the after party.

Throughout the evening, guests will learn more about type 1 diabetes, and have opportunities to donate to JDRF directly and buy a raffle ticket or participate in a silent auction with over 140 items.

Local 12’s Bob Herzog will serve as virtual emcee.

“We have an exciting and action-packed schedule of programming, and there truly is something for everyone,” said Newman. “Typically we would raise well over $1.2M at this event, but this year we are hopeful to at least reach $800,000 given the circumstances.”

Plans this year originally included recognition of Liza and Albert Smitherman as Cincinnatians of the Year, and Susan Mustian as the Cynthia Marver Marmer Volunteer of the Year. JDRF will now honor these recipients at their 2021 event, which hopefully will return to the Duke Energy Convention Center.

The ’80s-themed Don’t Stop Believin’, kicks off at 6 p.m.


Brighton Center goes all in on auction

Brighton Center has decided to convert its annual gala, and largest fundraiser, to a virtual gala via an online auction. 

An invitation from Brighton Center President and CEO Tammy Weidinger

Sponsors have already agreed to continue their support in order to help Brighton Center raise an additional $30,000 to provide life-changing services to its client families.  

The online auction features bucket list items, international vacations, trips to the beach, family-friendly days out, and local attractions.

Bidding will go live Saturday, May 9, 9:00 a.m. and end Saturday, May 16, 11:00 p.m. Register to receive notifications and preview auction items.

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