FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ (BBBS) 48th annual Gourmet Dinner raised a record amount with more than $500,000 in donations. The previous record of $428,000 was set two years ago. Last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic.
The event at the Grand Wayne Convention Center saw 850 attendees who helped benefit the agency and its mission to help local children reach their potential through professionally supported one-to-one mentor relationships. Since its establishment in 1973, the Annual Gourmet Dinner has grown to be one of the area’s premier charity events.
“Having grown up in northeast Indiana and come back, I’m thankful for and proud of the generosity of the individuals and businesses in northeast Indiana,” said Gourmet Dinner Chairman Bill Schenkel of IU Health. “Their unwavering support is what makes our community so great. The year 2020 brought a lot of uncertainty with it, but the support for Big Brothers Big Sisters still remains.”
Three-time NFL All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard was the 2021 keynote speaker.
Former president of Ashley Industrial Molding Ron Schoon was named winner of the annual Don Wolf Award, which is given to an individual who exhibits an exceptional commitment of service to children in the community. Schoon has been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana since 2009, joined the board of directors in 2012 and in 2017 received the national Clifford P. Norman Service award from BBBS in 2017.
“It means that people wanted to come out and support our community’s youth whom they recognize have been hurting and struggling through Covid,” said Josette Rider, BBBS Northeast Indiana Chief Executive Officer. “They supported us, and this will help us serve more kids. The reality is we are a non-fee-for-service non-profit agency, and without support like this we wouldn’t be around. We appreciate the community’s support, and they realize their investment in us is really helping tomorrow’s employees, future community and business leaders and citizens.”
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit the organization’s website.