Blog: Sidewalks of NY Gala Dinner
The class exuded by the esteemed Waldorf-Astoria hotel in midtown was outdone only by the event that would take place inside of its third floor ballroom on Monday night. For the 33rd straight year, friends, sponsors, and active members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City donned chic black ties and dresses, gathering for their annual Sidewalks of New York 2012 Awards Dinner and gala presentation honoring some of the organization’s most important and influential members over the previous year. 2012′s ceremonial presentation would be presided over by the evening’s emcee, CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien, presenting awards to honorees Marsh & McLennan Companies’ President & CEO Brian Duperreault, Ariel Investments’ President Mellody Hobson, and New York Jets cornerback and perennial NFL All-Pro, Darrelle Revis.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC is the country’s oldest and the City’s largest mentoring organization, working with and developing relationships with disadvantaged and underprivileged youths. Every day, more than 3000 children benefit from having this kind of additional care to help mold and change their lives. And the monies raised by the Sidewalks of NY dinner alone help to fund these different programs all around New York- from the $6,000 sponsor donation which helps fund educational activity year round to the $100 or $25 variety that can support an outing to a local landmark or sporting event or to help fund a child’s SAT prep course.
With fundraising in mind, the festivities of the nearly three hour event got underway promptly at 6:30pm with a jam packed cocktail hour of excited attendees awaiting the arrival of the honored guests. Shortly before 7pm, a smattering of suits and flashbulbs swarmed the south corner of the large room, signaling the arrival of the Jets superstar cornerback. Revis paced the room, pausing seemingly at each step for friendly conversation and picture posing with excited fans, also taking time out to sign autographs for the well-dressed youngsters in attendance.
The flickering of house lights indicated that guests be ushered to their dinner tables for the commencement of the awards presentation. O’Brien took to the elevated podium to a rousing ovation, and as a former honoree herself, seemed an appropriate selection to host the gala. Three ‘Littles’ would be introduced with their respective big brothers and sisters to talk about their experiences in meeting each other and bonding as strangers, and what an integral role they’ve become in each other’s lives. While the entire evening would be a celebration of the honorees, the real winner was the children themselves as the Sidewalks of NY gala alone raised upwards of $2.2 million in funding for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, a record take for the non-profit organization.
While Duppereault and Hobson graciously thanked the full ballroom, speaking briefly about the importance of the non-profit and the large work done behind the scenes to pull off not only an event of this caliber but to also ensure the program functions day to day, Revis reflected upon his own upbringing. He spoke off the cuff, without any note cards, about being raised without a father of his own. His character shows how imperative it is for a person of his celebrity to use his name recognition for good, as he appeared genuinely flattered to be receiving the award on this night. Offstage, the trio of award winners were both affable and good-natured, posing with their ‘Big’ & ‘Little’ matches, often playfully as the evening drew to a close. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a Trustee for the group, could be seen in great spirits on hand, chatting with fans and enjoying the black tie affair. Although the Sidewalks of NY dinner comes about once a year, there are ways every New Yorker can donate either their time volunteering or financially, to help the group continue upon its cycle of doing good deeds. Whether you fork over $25 or you decide to mentor an underprivileged child, you can find out more information on giving back at bigsnyc.org. Even a little support can go a long way.
- Jane Van Arsdale