In years past the month of June has been pretty much dead in the water for fundraising events. After all, some folks head out for summer vacations and others are just too worn out from all the spring activities to attend another lunch.
But 2021 is different. Unlike its sibling year 2020 when everyone hunkered down in their rabbit holes for most of the year and virtual became all too real, there are glimmers of hope for real, live in-person events in hotel ballrooms.
One of those has just gone public with a sit-down fundraising luncheon on Friday, June 25. It’s Rainbow Days’ 24th annual Pot of Gold Luncheon. Imagine being in the Omni Dallas Hotel Dallas Ballroom with other people!
But 2021 Pot of Gold Co-Chairs Kyle Coots and Ross DeRogatis aren’t opening up the floodgates for a return to the good old days of tables being tightly positioned together. No, they’re adhering to the CDC, the state of Texas and local public safety and health official guidelines. Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the room; tables will be spaced farther apart to comply with social distancing; and instead of yesteryear’s ten people to a table, there will be a limit of six.
That means that the ballroom that can accommodate more than 2,000 will only have 500 in place. Actually, it will be refreshing to sit at a table without chair-bumping the guest at the next table or watching the serving staff with trays squeeze their way through the bunched-up tables.
Kyle and Ross have arranged for a silent online auction co-chaired by Rainbow Day volunteers Melissa Griffith and Talene Kozanian. It will go live on Wednesday, June 16.
The big draw of the day, though, will be the keynote speaker Josh Shipp, who has been the poster child for foster children who can rise to success. His resume is remarkable, with Josh having completed postgraduate studies at Harvard, written two bestsellers (“The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans” and “The Teen’s Guide to World Domination”), appeared on top news shows (“Oprah,” CNN, Fox 20/20, “Good Morning America,” etc.), created Youth Speaker University that trains other speakers to use their own stories to inspire others, and set the internet afire with his TEDx talk, “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.”
But in reviewing 39-year-old Josh’s backstory, no one would have ever placed a bet on his success. He was born in Oklahoma City to a 17-year-old mother who gave him up for adoption. Instead of being adopted, Josh was placed in the foster care program. For 14 years he bounced from one foster home to another, determined to be rejected. He had learned early in the game not to trust anyone. With his defiance came over-eating (he weighed 175 lbs. when he was eight), pills, alcohol and attempted suicide. Then, at the age of 14, he was placed in Christine and Rodney Weidenmaier’s home. It was #13 for Josh, and he was determined to keep his routine going. No matter how Josh acted out and shut them out, they stayed patient. But two years later he ended up in jail.
How did the Weidenmaiers handle this development? Sign up to hear Josh’s story on June 15. Tickets starting at $200 and sponsorships ranging from $2,000 to $25,000 are available here.
BTW, if you’re skittish about venturing out, Kyle and Ross have arranged for a virtual option, too.
* Graphic/photo provided by Rainbow Days