A moment of silence fell over the PYD office as a brilliant idea filled Nicole’s brain after listening to ‘In the Afternoon with Austin’ on Radio Perkins. Nicole strung up from her desk and turned to me with an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm as she spilled her idea, “Austin, do you think Kennedy would like to host PYD’s annual benefit fundraiser as the Master of Ceremonies?”
I replied, “It doesn’t hurt to ask. But, if we have any hope we have to write up the proposal opportunity email tonight!”
The email was in Kennedy’s inbox by the following morning, to which she replied almost immediately with a resounding, “YES!”
Following this new addition to Party for PYD, Nicole asked if I would be interested in joining the Party Planning Committee. I, of course, could not turn down such a valuable opportunity! I then began attending meetings twice a month until May 10th, 2018.
The planning committee meetings were a place for communication of ideas related to goals, details and logistics. Topics discussed include everything from sponsor and guest engagement, venue design, invitations, social media strategies, auction items, donors, catering, volunteers, youth performers, etc. Although being apart of the planning committee was a tedious role to fill, it was one that came with a great deal of fulfillment. Every planning committee member brought a unique set of skills and resources that contributed to the growing passion. Overall, this was a very empowering and incredible opportunity that will live on in my memory for a great deal of time.
Party for PYD day, on May 10th, 2018, began with a light breakfast and delicious lunch. Following lunch, PYD staff members and volunteers carried all the supplies and auction material to their cars. Once the cars were filled, it was off to the races! We caravanned to PwC, who generously hosted the event, jamming out along the way with my friend, who graciously donated her entire day to PYD party prep! I was updating social media periodically throughout the day and happened to be doing so as we drove down multiple stories into the parking garage. I instantly became very dizzy and needed to pause to regroup. After I felt better, I made my way into PwC where Allyson Schiller from PwC greeted me. She gracefully escorted my friend and I to the futuristic elevators. As we made our way up the elevators we quickly discovered the speed at which they traveled, contributing to yet another headache and I nearly fainted…. But, you know what they say, the show must go on!
Allyson, thankfully, paused with us as we got off the elevator, as she got me ginger ale and pretzels to ease my dizziness. From then on out, Allyson hung out by my side a majority of the day, which allowed us to bond! She showed me around the venue, helped me update my social media throughout the set up process, and graciously offered treats! Our PYD team members made a much needed caffeine run to Starbucks!
Suspense was building as the event was drawing closer to the 6pm start, putting on last minute touches. The PYD family could barely contain their excitement! We all gathered towards the nearest restrooms to change out of our set-up clothes and freshen up for the distinguished guests and stellar night. We were so happy and humbled to welcome our guests into the breath-taking venue.
As 5:30 hit, we knew it was nearly show time! Elegantly dressed Party for PYD guests filled the atrium at PwC, admiring the Boston harbor view! We mingled, took photos, ate delicious food, told stories, while awaiting Kennedy’s arrival. Kennedy’s presence immediately brought about laughs, compliments, and stories that lasted until the speaking portion of the event.
At 6:50, PYD youth leaders and volunteers, with fairy wands, rapidly ushered all guests into place for the speaking portion of the night. Guest quickly filled their seats, since the party agenda was tighter than your grandmother’s jeans!
Neil Leonard, Vice President of the PYD Board of Directors and Chair of the Planning Committee gave the crowd a formal welcome followed by a passionate introduction to me, which nearly brought me to tears. I then had the opportunity to execute the script I had spent countless hours writing and perfecting for Kennedy and me. I was given the opportunity to introduce Kennedy to the crowd and share a segment of our journey together. This was really meaningful, for it allowed us to share our passionate and spontaneous connection with the audience, demonstrating how deeply I care for her as my mentor. Following the outstanding youth performance by our 2017 Rayleen Lescay awardee, Sophia Rose Kelley, Kennedy moved into the auction portion of the event. This brought upon many jokes and high-value bids, which helped PYD to exceed their fundraising efforts! Thanks to generous guests and Kennedy helming the live auction, we raised just short of $30,000 the night of Party for PYD. THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EVER!
It was a heartfelt privilege and honor to serve with the PYD family and alongside the facilitator, Nicole Malo (Director of Development and Community Engagement), in Party for PYD 2018. Nicole was an absolute joy to work alongside, as her passion radiates and warms the hearts of many. She worked countless hours that were truly seen in the execution of Party for PYD 2018. Anybody who encounters Nicole’s presence will immediate feel her passion, warmth, and utmost drive to do an incredible job each and everyday. She is a unique asset to the team, along with each and every member of the PYD staff, who worked many hours to put on such an amazing event! The PYD family works everyday to provide our community with safe, valuable, and fulfilling opportunities. They care about all details, no matter how small!
Thank you to each and every one of you for truly helping make it a memorable night!
All the best,