Friends of the Children - New York | The 2024 Step Up Gala: A Night…

May 01, 2024

The 2024 Step Up Gala: A Night of Empowerment and Celebration

Gotham Hall was alive with energy and excitement as Friends of the Children New York (Friends New York) hosted its prestigious 2024 Step Up Gala on April 25th. The evening, hosted by the talented Tony Award Winning and Grammy Nominated Lena Hall, brought together a diverse array of supporters, philanthropists, and community leaders to celebrate the organization's mission of impacting generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors for 12+ years, no matter what.

Heartfelt Speeches

The event commenced with a passionate introductory statement by Friends New York's board co-presidents, Pat McGrath and Karn Chopra. Sharing their personal stories with the organization, they illuminated our unique model of mentorship that setting an inspired tone for the evening.

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Alumni speaker, Xander, also took to the stage to share his personal journey and the transformative role that Friends New York played in his life. Through unwavering support and guidance, his mentors shaped his academic and personal development, teaching Xander the value of perseverance and self-belief. Xander's story serves as a testament to the importance of mentorship in unlocking the potential of youth and creating a pathway to a brighter future.

Highlighting Friends & Achievers

Throughout the evening, guests were moved by powerful videos highlighting the stories of two of our Achievers. Kasin and his Friend, Moses, reflected on how Kasin has changed while in the program. These changes have led to him not only joining his wrestling team, but also becoming captain.

Mason and his Friend, Renato, shared his academic achievements and aspirations, including his pursuit of a prestigious scholarship, for which he is a finalist out of 30,000. These testimonials served as a poignant reminder of the importance of providing support and guidance to Achievers as they navigate life's challenges.

Inspiring Performances

Attendees were treated to unforgettable performances by our incredible host and Broadway stars Okieriete Onaodowan and Kyle Taylor Parker, whose talents illuminated the stage and captivated the audience.

The gala also featured an rousing performance by Jenesis, who captivated the audience with her rendition of "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson. Despite only being in elementary school, Jenesis showcased undeniable confidence, inspiring all with her unwavering determination and passion for performance. Her performance was a testament to the transformative impact of mentorship and the incredible potential of every young person to shine brightly, regardless of their age.

The Paddle Raise

A pivotal moment of the night was the paddle raise. Attendees pledged donations at various levels, which will go directly towards funding essential programs and initiatives, such as providing extracurricular opportunities for Achievers, offering resources and support to caregivers, and facilitating access to educational and enrichment activities.

Esteemed supporter Seth Meyers enhanced this segment by donating tickets to his shows, further fueling our mission. This generous act, along with the enthusiastic participation of all present, underscored the strong community support and raised over $600K, in addition to the almost $1.3 million we raised previously!

Karaoke with Lena

The evening concluded with an engaging karaoke session led by Lena Hall, offering a joyful and interactive way for attendees to contribute to our cause. This segment celebrated the spirit of community and support that defines Friends New York, with guests performing a mix of hits that filled the room with camaraderie and laughter.

From gala attendees to accomplished Achievers like Jenesis and A'Lauryn, to the Broadway stars themselves, the stage became a vibrant showcase of talent and unity. With song selections ranging from upbeat hits like "Firework" by Katy Perry to nostalgic classics like "Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice, the karaoke session offered a lighthearted yet impactful way for guests to contribute to Friends of the Children's mission.

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Thank You

We want to express our heartfelt appreciation to all the attendees and sponsors of the 2024 Step Up Gala. Your presence and support made the evening truly special and contributed to our mission of empowering youth in New York City. It's through your generosity and commitment that we were able to reach our fundraising goal! Thank you for standing with us and making this evening such a success!

If you were unable to join us, it's not too late to make a difference! Follow the link to contribute and help us continue our mission of creating positive change for youth in New York. Together, we can make a lasting impact.