Blog: BBBS of NYC - Sidewalks of NY 2016
The annual “Sidewalks of New York” gala has become one of the most anticipated events of the spring season for our outlet, welcoming more than 1,000 generous attendees to the ritzy Waldorf Astoria as part of an annual fundraiser to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. Each year the event selects local community members, who have graciously donated their time to help mentor underprivileged youths, to be honored during an awards presentation alongside one of the country’s most revered athletes during the course of the evening. 2016’s program (the 37th annual event) was poised to be the most successful in the nonprofit organization’s long history with more than $3 million being raised on Monday night alone, to the collective marvel of the well-dressed clientele packed at round tables inside of the Waldorf’s posh ballroom setting.
A brief cocktail reception would welcome attendees into the hotel, replete with some finger foods and an open bar, as the honorees took turns posing for pictures with some family and friends as well as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has attended the event each year since taking over as head of the league. The program itself would begin promptly at 7:30pm where first time co-hosts, husband and wife combo Al Roker (The Today Show) and Deborah Roberts (ABC News, 20/20) would regale the live crowd with some witty banter to break up some of the more poignant moments from speakers like BBBS Chief Executive Officer Hector Batista and BBBS President Marva Smalls who spent considerable time thanking the sizable crowd for the direct impact that their donations have on the lives of local children. Fortunately the co-hosts also played the role of auctioneers by urging the crowd to pledge via text message during the live portion of the program and as a result, hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for BBBS of NYC on site during the evening’s ‘Text-to-Pledge’ campaign.
A delicious three course feast would await the roomful of guests, where the lavish setting was forced to play second fiddle to a delicious ‘Caprese Salad,’ a piping hot ‘Chicken Pot Pie’ and one of the best ‘Ice Cream Sundaes’ in human existence. Meanwhile as per usual, the most touching portion of the evening would welcome three sets of Bigs and Littles to the stage to exchange some funny stories with the audience. Interestingly enough, it was the mentors whose lives had seemed reciprocally touched by the very children that they had spent time mentoring, showing the two-way nature of the relationships that BBBS of NYC helps to foster. The pairings would each introduce a different winner for 2016’s Awards Dinner. Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of The Ad Council (Public Service Award), Charles Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Infor (Corporate Award) and Cam Newton, NFL Quarterback of the Carolina Panthers (Sports Award) would each address the crowd with some motivational messages in genuine appreciation of the evening’s honor.
To no surprise, the 26 year old Newton was the evening’s most anticipated guest. Outfitted in a blue paisley sports jacket, the well-spoken quarterback grinned from ear to ear as he laid out some advice for the pair that welcomed him to the stage, leaving the audience with an important and inspirational message- “There’s never a bad time to do the right thing.” It is estimated that Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City serves upwards of 5,000 young people throughout each of the five boroughs each year but to grow the program to new neighborhoods and to create awareness for new mentors to begin participating, it’s gala events like Monday evening’s festivities which are entirely necessary. Though only three children were able take center stage during the program, “Sidewalks of New York” allows each of us a moment of pause to think about the many needy and at-risk children in our area that could use more support to keep their confidence strong and their motivation high. There’s plenty that the every-man can do to step in and impact the live of a local youth in need- and the initiatives of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York City are working to make it easier than ever for the rest of us to get involved.
For more information on the group’s mission, to make a donation or to get involved, check out bigsnyc.org.
– Dave Gendelson