As we’re only one short month away from our 11th Annual Imagine Gala the excitement for all we can achieve continues to build. All of our success of past Galas can only be attributed to the dedicated volunteers who have seen the event through for many years and this year is no exception. Our Gala Committee Co-Chairs, Julie Burrow and Michelle Leeper, have both been on our Gala Committee for 10 years now and certainly bring a lot of experience and knowledge to their leadership roles for our chapter’s 11th Gala.
Both Julie and Michelle are tied to JDRF because of their sons; Julie’s son, Andy, was diagnosed with T1D at age 11 and Michelle’s son, Gabriel, was diagnosed at age three. Julie has been involved with the Imagine Gala since its beginning 11 years ago. “Central Florida is a socially caring community and we have been fortunate with the Gala, to see it grow each year, both in attendance and dollars raised.” She says of the event. And Julie’s leadership is what prompted Michelle to get involved; “I was quickly introduced to JDRF by my friend and mentor Julie Burrow who held my hand along the way and gave me the encouragement to make a difference in our community and towards this greater cause.”
Julie and Michelle are well connected in the Central Florida community and have had the opportunity to attend many great events for other causes. However, the Imagine Gala stands out in their mind not only because of their personal connection to T1D, but because of its class and, as Julie describes, the “energy that seems to be present in the room…We have one of the best silent auctions, delicious sit down dinner, great dancing, and a program that is both informative and truly inspirational.”
While the Gala Committee does play one of the largest roles in the planning and ultimate success of the Imagine Gala, our Board of Ambassadors contributes a great deal to the fundraising success of the event. The Board of Ambassadors is a group of individuals who leverage their connections and increase the amount of corporate involvement in our Gala. This group is led by Zander Clem and has been since its inception in 2015. Zander’s connection to JDRF is through his son, Alexander, who was diagnosed with T1D only two and a half years ago. As Alexander grows up and is beginning to fully head into his teenage years the challenges of T1D are ever present, but so is Zander’s passion for a cure. If you’ve ever attended our Imagine Gala there is no denying that Zander is one of the most dedicated individuals.
Of course we hope to surpass our fundraising goal at this year’s event to contribute a great deal to T1D research, but in addition to that the Chapter, Committee, Board of Ambassadors, and the Board of Directors are looking for every attendee to enjoy a great evening and be moved to become more engaged with JDRF and its mission to find a cure for Type One. The Central Florida Chapter is so fortunate to have Julie, Michelle, and Zander on our team and their commitment to us is inspiring.
If you’re interested in contributing to our 11th Annual Imagine Gala in any way please visit the event website: Imagine Gala 2017