Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana has proved its ambitious outreach to its members, sponsors, and supporters by providing them with opportunities that reflect its mission and by thinking outside the box. Night of Flight, a first-of-its-kind fundraising event, succeeded in proving that mission. The event included the opportunity for members of Boys & Girls Clubs and Night of Flight Guests to fly in one of the three Chicago Helicoptor Experience helicopters, listen and engage with accomplished speakers, and meet the people who sponsor them.
Guests included sponsors and supporters such as American Licorice Company, Toyota of Merrillville, Boeing Airplanes, The MacMillan Foundation, Centier Bank, NIPSCO, Lakeside Wealth Management, First Midwest Bank, the Times, B. Coleman Aviation, Service Sanitation, BMW of Schererville, Gamba Ristorante, Spice Thai, BMO Harris Bank, Epic Limo, Inspirado, and many more that made the event possible.
The event featured influential speakers such as Olympic Track and Field star and previous Club kid himself, Norris Frederick; Kristi Shafer, Vice President of Marketing at American Licorice Co., and Director and Chief Pilot at Boeing; and Mark Jackson, who pushed the importance of the idea that if one can dream it, one can do it. American Licorice also premiered its #EMBRACE video which included Norris, as well as many members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana. Watch the #EMBRACE video here:
The event offered an array of various cuisines from around the world, as well as performances by Midwest Big Band and Merrillville High School Show Choir, which includes many Boys & Girls Club Alumni.
Ryan Smiley, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, spoke about his excitement for the innovative evening.
“This is a new event for us. We just recently merged into Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana and knew we needed a new signature event,” Smiley said. “The team had this incredible vision to provide an event that was experiential, not only for our youth, but our guests, sponsors, and supporters, as well.”
With the chances to fly in a helicopter, the night offered plenty of such experiential moments.
“We have one of the largest Boys & Girls Club organizations in the country based on the number of youths served. Yet, the most impressive story isn’t found in the numbers, but the amazing kids and families that we serve,” Smiley said.
Azariah Avery, a 10-year member of the Boys & Girls Club, spoke at the event, making an impactful statement based off her experience at the Club. Her Club journey would not be possible without the immense support from donors and supporters.
“Going to the Club became a routine, and the staff worked with me. They showed me I can be who I want to be, and that I can love myself,” Avery said. “I have my own voice, and Boys & Girls Club taught me that.”
Buffy Adams, Director of Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, spoke about the appreciation volunteers and members have for their supporters. She referred to a member of the Club who spoke out about their focal supporter, American Licorice Co.
“I didn’t know a candy company [American Licorice Co.] could care for me, the way I care for a candy company!” Adams exclaimed. “The kids get it, and appreciate you. They feel your love, which is an amazing thing to experience.”
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