For the first time in its 54-year history, Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sister will be holding its annual gala on a virtual platform, featuring guests such as Gov. Ned Lamont and other famous names.
Over the summer, the mentorship organization heard from a wide range of past gala attendees and said there was a consensus that there should be plans to hold the beloved annual event in a safe way during the pandemic.
“Our board and staff were in agreement,” said Andy Fleischmann, president and CEO of Nutmeg. “This online version will preserve all the key gala elements: inspiring mentors and children, uplifting special guests and supporters, and a chance to appreciate all that our kids and their ‘Bigs’ are achieving. This online version of the gala, the 2020 Challenge, is an evening we believe will capture the wonderful feelings our guests have felt at past galas, without compromising anyone’s health or safety.”
The gala will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 10. For event details, contact Mariah Nolan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-844-6993.
Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters is an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the 116- year-old national youth mentoring organization. Based in Hartford, Nutmeg offers its life-changing programs to at-risk children in 132 of the state’s 169 municipalities.
Celebrities with strong ties to the state’s communities are on the guest list, including Javier Colon, a native of Stratford and winner of the first season of NBC’s The Voice. The singer will entertain the virtual audience while Tim Lammers, weekday news anchor for the Fox 61 Morning News will be emceeing the event. He has reported many stories about Nutmeg over the years and volunteered as host at several events.
As the recipient of a Visionary Leader Award in 2019 at the Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Year awards event, Lamont will be speaking at the virtual event. He has been a friend of the organization and a longtime advocate for children’s issues, both in his public and private life.
With the prestigious lineup for the 2020 Challenge, the organization recognizes the abundance of star power that will be attending the virtual gala. But Ryan Matthews, director of programs at Nutmeg, said the real stars of the evening are the Bigs’, adult mentors, and Littles’, children being mentored, who event attendees will meet and get to know during the course of the evening, he said.
“Our ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ are the backbone of our organization,” said Matthews. “They are its heart and soul. Their generosity of spirt, I believe, is immediately obvious. I can’t wait for attendees to see them in action.”
Mariah Nolan, Nutmeg’s development and events manager, said they have been busy securing items for the live auction, which has a wide range of offerings to choose from.
“I’m also happy to say that professional auctioneer and attendee-favorite Paul Stansel is back this year to preside over our live auction and Fund-the-Mission portion of the program,” she said. “Our event is different this time around, and I see this as an opportunity. In years gone by, our galas were held at locations that could only accommodate a couple of hundred people. Now, because we’re going virtual, an unlimited number of people can take part in a unique night of fun, inspiration and surprises.”