YEScarolina Annual Gala Fundraiser Raises $215,000!
The evening commenced with four hundred guests walking the red carpet into Memminger Auditorium for the Fourth Annual Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina Gala. The night glimmered in the effervescence of champagne and flash of the paparazzi, Summerville High School photography students. Upon entering the elegantly decorated auditorium complete with gorgeous chandeliers, mirrored glass, and beautiful floral arrangements, guests dined on hors d’oeuvres from Hall’s Chophouse such as deviled eggs with crab meat, pâté, and cheese. Attendees met and exchanged with South Carolina’s top ten student entrepreneurs. Each student had a table with his or her business displayed and materials to share.
“YEScarolina has provided me with a lot of experiences and opportunities that I certainly would not have had without participating in the class and events,” said YEScarolina top student Evan Knox of Bullseye Web Designs. “Additionally, I have been unbelievably motivated and inspired by many of the people who I’ve had the opportunity to meet and the places that I’ve had the opportunity to visit, all of which would not have been possible without YEScarolina!”
The showed then began with the closing of the silent auction and a warm welcome by Clyde and Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Bailey Founder & Executive Director and Harriett Lee, VP of Programs and Development, respectively.
The entire evening focused around the importance of teacher-student interaction and how the primary function of YEScarolina is training teachers with entrepreneurship tools. First up were two alumnae Kesha Rainey and Erin Willis, who shared their powerful and emotional stories about their entrepreneurship teachers helping them overcome personal issues and the class being a way to a better future. The girls then presented the award for South Carolina Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year to Hacker Burr of Charleston Collegiate.
Next up was Tommy Baker remotely due to the dealership awards in Chicago, Board Chairman of YEScarolina, announcing the nominees for South Carolina Entrepreneurship Student of the Year. The award went to Luke Varadi of Wando High School. Teacher and student of the year received stipends and a paid trip to the April 2014 Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship awards gala.
In the meantime guests enjoyed a succulent three-course dinner by Hall’s Chophouse, featuring sashimi and porcini-mushroom-dusted filet mignon complete with all steaks donated by Allen Brother’s. Crosby’s Seafood provided fish and shellfish, and Limehouse Produce supplied fresh vegetables. Bill Hall, YEScarolina board member, and Chef Niessner worked diligently alongside The Art Institute’s culinary student volunteers and Hall’s staff to produce this unforgettable meal. Entertainment for the evening was the Chucktown Trippin Tones, a College of Charleston a cappella group.
The high energy live auction was a highlight of the evening only to be topped by YEScarolina sweetheart and the recipient of the Mark Motley Big Heart Award, Victoria Turner, a Summerville High School student who participated in the 2013 Motley Rice and Mark Motley Foundation’s business plan competitions and was recently featured on CBS Evening News.
Victoria shared her inspiring story and her business plan for photography, which is more focused on helping others such as homeless families than yielding profits. Her teacher Jonathan Rushin was a driving force behind her success this year and was recognized at the gala.
The live auction concluded with a private plane charter on a Hawker850, a trip to Tuscany, and the teacher training seed money fund. The event raised $215,000, which will finance teacher training for the next three to four years. “We are overwhelmed by the support of our community and proud that our supporters understand the importance of entrepreneurship education in today’s economy,” said Founder Jimmy Bailey. All students were recognized on stage at the end of the evening with a student from Charleston Collegiate, Conor Corcoran, receiving the Ron Motley Memorial award.
So ended a poignant evening for a cause that teaches hands-on, life relevant and business skills. The excellence of these students was evident throughout the evening among the throngs of Charleston’s most influential and generous citizens, marking yet another great success for the youth entrepreneurs of our State. Way to go!