The Two Ten Footwear Foundation’s annual gala stepped it up in a big way this year — raising a record $3.7 million for shoe families in crisis.
The event, held at the captivating American Museum of Natural History last Wednesday, brought together 800 people from across the industry to rally for the cause. Funds will go to emergency financial assistance, natural disaster recovery, referral and other support services, and programs provided by Two Ten footwear employees.
The Edelmans, one of the industry’s legendary families, co-chaired the event, with Sam, Libby and Jesse all having key roles in making the night memorable.
“Libby, Jesse and I were so proud to be co-chairs for the 79th annual Two Ten Gala, our industry’s most important annual event,” said Sam Edelman. “The footwear industry is an incredible community — one that comes together to support its own. We wanted this year’s gala to generate excitement about the future of our industry, celebrate the inclusion within it and encourage the development of emerging talent. Everything we planned and designed was with these goals in mind.”
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A key component of the co-chairs’ vision for celebrating inclusion was to seat major event donors and industry veterans with new members of the industry and mix table locations between the main floor and the balcony.
The evening also included three special awards: Skechers president Michael Greenberg was feted by presenter (and Skechers endorser) Brooke Burke — who talked about Greenberg’s huge passion and commitment for making a difference in the lives of special-needs children.
Katie Butler, general manager for Franco Sarto, received the A.A. Bloom Award for her tireless fundraising efforts on behalf of the Two Ten Footwear Foundation.
Zappos.com took home the social impact award for the company’s commitment to giving back to their Las Vegas community and beyond. General manager Jeff Espersen was on hand to receive the honor.
Two Ten also recognized 12 individuals and organizations as this year’s Two Ten Heroes — advocates who extend themselves in notable ways.
Perhaps the most meaningful moments of the evening happened when five industry employees shared personal stories about how they had been greatly helped by Two Ten.
Debbie Ferrée — who decided this year to give $1,000 for every year she’s spent in the shoe industry, for a total of $38,000 — encouraged other members of the crowd to do the same, and they answered her call. Other shoe players contributed incremental amounts that were significant to them — and a final fundraising moment spearheaded by Two Ten board members Bobby Campbell and Joe Ouaknine put the night over the top. Collectively, the group raised $950,000 in donations during the gala.
“It was a spectacular night, and we are again humbled by the caring and community our industry exudes,” said Neal Newman, president of Two Ten Footwear Foundation. “We are awe-inspired by the outpouring of generosity, and because of it, Two Ten will be able to help thousands of footwear employees in the coming year recover from a natural disaster, a health crisis, pick up the pieces following the loss of a job and so many other emergencies that can upend their lives. With the unsettling fact that hidden poverty exists in every industry, including our own, we must continue to address critical needs, especially of those colleagues who are amongst the working poor.”
He added, “The creative genius of Sam, Libby and Jesse Edelman, coupled with their deep passion for the footwear community, resulted in an extraordinary fundraising event that we’ll be talking about for many years.”
For more from the big night, click through the gallery.