As Two Ten celebrates turning 75 this year, its famed gala is getting a new look.
On Dec. 2, the foundation’s annual dinner will consist of two events, instead of its past format made up of cocktails, dinner and an awards ceremony. The event, hosted at the Marriot Marquis Times Square in New York, starts with a fundraising dinner for 300. That will be followed by a much larger industry soiree.
“There is broad agreement that this is the social event of the year for the industry,” Two Ten President Neal Newman said. “We want it to be a party, for people to enjoy themselves and see this as a celebration.”
Ken Hicks, who recently stepped down as Foot Locker CEO, will serve as chairman of the event.
“With the new format, we are trying something different, and we are able to involve more people at the event,” Hicks said. “Hopefully, we raise another record amount; we’re still pushing and I think we will.”
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Also on the night’s agenda: Tim O’Donovan will be honored with the Bob Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my footwear career,” said O’Donovan, who served as chairman and CEO of Wolverine World Wide Inc. before retiring in 2009. “I’ve known Bob [Campbell] for over 25 years, and I’ve always had great admiration for him. It’s special when the award is named after him.”
O’Donovan also commented on some of the gala’s biggest changes over the years since the first banquet in 1940.
“One of the major enhancements was moving the dinner from Boston to New York,” he said. “They are getting a much younger audience at that dinner, and that has made it more exciting. It’s one of the most fun things in the industry, to meet your peers.”
Looking ahead, Hicks said he is leaving a solid foundation for the next dinner chair.
“They can build on the new format; the key is for more people to understand what Two Ten can do,” he said, adding that although his role in the industry will change, he plans to stay involved with the organization.
Overall, Newman looks forward to bringing the community together.
“We want to express the generosity, the compassion, the sense that you can compete during the day, but after hours there is still a camaraderie and sense that we are going to take care of our own,” Newman said. “That’s a shoe thing.”