On November 27, 2018, Giving Tuesday, GENYOUth celebrated their third annual fundraising Gala at the historic Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. In attendance was our family of dairy farmers, partners, students, and educators, alongside some of the biggest names in sports.
GENYOUth couldn’t reach as many students as we do without all of those who showed up last night to support our mission, and together we raised over $2 million to better youth wellness across the nation. But beyond the fundraising, it was a special evening to gather and show our gratitude to all those who have made lasting impacts on the lives of GENYOUth students this year.
In keeping with the theme of “Everyday Superheroes,” we kicked off the night by hearing from a couple of our Fuel Up To Play 60 heroes and students, Kyree Huggins, NC, and Jimena Tinoco, TX, who reminded us how important it is to live a healthy and active lifestyle. They gave us insights on what they’ve learned through the Fuel Up To Play 60 program, and showed us that we can all be leaders, regardless of our age: “Think win-win,” said Kyree, “you want everyone to be successful--I don’t have to put others down to get what I want.” “Fuel Up To Play 60 is a program that is perfect for all students to grow and learn while encouraging others and spreading awareness. I’ve learned how to be a better leader and how to get the best out of my team and fellow students,” said Jimena.
During the night, we took a moment to salute our “Everyday Superheroes--those men and women from all walks of life who improve the lives of American kids,” said GENYOUth CEO, Alexis Glick. As part of the evening’s surprise segment, we wanted to recognize three particular Superhero Honorees who have shown tremendous commitment to our Fuel Up To Play 60 program, and who have changed countless student lives across the nation. Fuel Up To Play 60 Advisor, Yesenia Pion, President of The National Dairy Council, Jean Ragalie-Carr, and Pro-football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas. Without them, Fuel Up To Play 60 wouldn’t be what it is today; it is through their support and nourishment of this program that all of this is possible. With the help of our honorees and all of our guests, we were able to raise over $250k in scholarship funds to send students and program advisors to our annual Fuel Up To Play 60 Student Summit in 2019!
In a moment that brought everyone to their feet, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell presented CEO Al Carey, on behalf of PepsiCo, with the Vanguard Award as a recognition of their outstanding support and commitment to GENYOUth and youth wellness.
“Our mission is performing with purpose, to deliver great business performances while helping others,” said Al Carey. Perhaps no one exemplifies these values better than our passionate PepsiCo family, who committed an additional $1 million to GENYOUth in support of our programs. It’s been an honor to partner with PepsiCo for the sake of America’s youth, and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings, as our partnership becomes even stronger.
At this year’s Gala, for the first time ever, we held a very special keynote panel moderated by CBS and NFL Network TV host and former NFL wide receiver, Nate Burleson, who discussed the topic of Everyday Superheroes with New York Yankees star Aaron Judge, two-time Olympic gold medal boxer Claressa Shields, and former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. We got to hear about each of the star’s personal heroes, as well as their training, experiences, and hardships. Claressa spoke about overcoming stereotypes and proving herself in a male-dominated sport, Victor spoke about a heartbreaking experience that compelled him to make a difference, and Aaron left us with some profound advice that we all should all take with us: “If what you did yesterday still seems big today, you haven’t done anything today.” Whether it was through giving advice or sharing their stories, our keynote panel left everyone in the audience with new insights.
Last but not least, we finished off the night with an original rap number from Fuel Up To Play 60 kids Hayden and Makhi--two students who have confidence and vision beyond their years. All in all, the 2018 GENYOUth Gala was a great success, and it is with unending gratitude that we bring this year to a close; with all the support, passion, and encouragement we’ve received from our partners, we can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for GENYOUth.