Leadership Gilroy Class Raises Big Bucks for Veteransby on Oct 31, 2022
When Gavilan Communications Faculty member Denise Besson and Kim Benjamin, Gavilan Sr. Financial Aid Specialist, began their journey with the 2022 Leadership Gilroy Class, they would have never imagined they were going to break a fundraising record with their “A Salute to Our Veterans” event on October 1st at the Gilroy Veterans Hall.
After months of research the Class of 2022 decided to raise money for the much-needed facelift of the Hall’s kitchen, where veterans from all wars convene in community to continue to provide support for each other, to younger generations, while enjoying a meal. Denise Besson had not only a professional, but a personal stake in the event since her father, a Vietnam veteran, spends much of his time at the Hall.
The clear and beautiful day started with Denise Besson serving as the Mistress of Ceremony, followed by the refurbished Flagpole Dedication and performance of the National Anthem. Veteran and long-term community leader, John Ceballos addressed the large crowd outside the Hall. Mayor Blankley was also in attendance to offer her remarks.
The crowd was led inside to the Hall where red, white and blue carnations adored the tables, and a long row of gift baskets for the silent auction lined up the width of the Hall, and an all-smiles Kim Benjamin was ready to dispense the individual auction numbers to participants. From a 50-person event at Besson Vineyards to a $1,500 49ers game day, the offerings were hearty and enticing.
At the back of the Hall attendees were treated to a fabulous breakfast and coffee, with lottery ticket basket prizes to choose from. The grand prize, an enormous frame, filled with colorful lottery tickets displayed as art, had participants dropping multiple tickets into its bin.
The already filled Hall became packed with more attendees, parents and families of the children singers from Pacific Point School, who gave everyone goosebumps with their sweet, but powerful renditions of patriotic songs: “God, Bless America” and “Proud to be An American.”
To the crowd’s delight, what followed was a fireside chat with local veterans: Ermelindo Puente, Phil Garcia and Gabe Perez. The oldest World War II Veteran was also in attendance at the fundraiser.
The culmination of the event was witnessing attendees win all the great prizes, and the Class of 2022 revealing they had raised the most funds from any other Leadership Gilroy class: $73,000.00!!
It really was an amazing day where the community really showed their love for local veterans.
Leadership Gilroy & Education Foundation exists to build passionate and skilled leaders within our community.