Two Ten Footwear Foundation is shaking things up for a good cause. This year’s annual fundraiser will be a two-night event, taking place on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 in New York.
The revised format, conceived by dinner chair Jim Issler, CEO and president of H.H. Brown, is designed to allow more industry members to participate in the festivities and to boost fund- raising efforts. All told, the organization hopes to raise $3.1 million this year for its initiatives. All proceeds will fund Two Ten’s emergency financial assistance, crisis counseling, natural disaster relief and higher-education scholarships for foot- wear families.
The first evening’s event, A Night of Giving and Entertainment, will be held at 583 Park Avenue and is sponsored by FFANY. It will focus on Two Ten’s awards ceremony and VIP dinner. During the awards portion, Two Ten will recognize the hard work and passion of its members with three prestigious honors.
Debbie Ferrée, vice chairman and chief merchandising officer of DSW Inc., will be presented with the A.A. Bloom Award; the late Vince Camuto, founder and CEO of Camuto Group, will be posthumously honored with the T. Kenyon Holly Award; and Kevin Donahue, chairman of the Quabaug Charitable Foundation, will receive the first Social Impact Award.
On the second evening, Two Ten’s 76th annual gala will take place at the Hammerstein Ball- room, with more than 1,800 industry members expected to attend. Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons will perform, while DJ Chachi will also provide music.
“Jim Issler had the great idea to try something new and different this year,” noted Diane Sullivan, vice chair of Two Ten’s board of directors, who will assume the role of chair in 2016. “The first night is a more intimate event, while the second evening is an opportunity to bring in as many people from our industry as possible for a fun concert.”
Added Issler, “We want this to be an event that industry executives and young footwear professionals alike will aspire to attend. We were able to design separate experiences that cater to each night’s audience. This will be an experience that celebrates the pillars of Two Ten and the many causes the organization supports. It also will [be an opportunity] to educate newcomers about Two Ten’s efforts and the many ways to get involved.”
Sullivan said the fundraising goal is the organization’s most ambitious yet. “It’s perfectly timed, as our emergency assistance and scholarship budgets are now at $2.57 million, the highest in our history,” she noted.
Neal Newman, Two Ten’s president, said this year’s award recipients have all been instrumental in helping the organization ramp up money-raising efforts for its many initiatives. “[Our] board takes its responsibility of [choosing award honorees] seriously,” Newman said.
“Vince Camuto was a slam dunk. He represented a long history of charitable work. It was something the board members wanted to affirm, and this year was the perfect time since his wife, Louise, is now a board member.”
Newman also noted Debbie Ferrée’s longstanding relationship with Two Ten, most recently as chair of the education committee. “This year, we grew the scholarship budget to $870,000, the highest in our history,” he said. “It’s due [in large part] to Debbie’s urging and activism.”
Kevin Donahue, New- man said, has worked diligently to build the Footwear Warriors Scholarship, the first developed for military veterans. “He hatched the idea and was active in the fundraising [efforts], and it’s [nearing] a target of a half-million dollars.”
Issler said industry support for Two Ten is wide-ranging. “Involvement is key at any career level — whether it’s through a substantial donation or by newcomers encouraging their company to purchase a few extra tickets. We are confident that the buzz that will follow this year’s event will entice a new audience and welcome new participation.”
Like Issler, Blake Krueger, chairman and CEO of Wolverine World Wide Inc. and chair of Two Ten’s board, encourages industry members to join by pointing out that those in need may be someone they know, perhaps a coworker in the office next door. “They don’t want to come to you or their company,” Krueger said. “Two Ten is their last safety net.”