On June 6 at Pier Sixty on the Hudson River in New York, the shoe industry will gather to celebrate for the first time in more than two years.
But like much else, the charity gala hosted by Two Ten Footwear Foundation now looks a little different. Gone is the VIP dinner and large-scale concert and party. Instead, the nonprofit is organizing a casino-night event for 700, focused on a cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. There will be Vegas-style décor, gaming tables, lounges and entertainment.
Two Ten CEO and president Shawn Osborne explained that the move reflects major changes within the organization. “We shifted our fundraising strategy from one night to an all-year-long strategy of raising funds,” he said. “So this event is for all the people who gave to us over the last year, corporate and individual donors. This is a celebration of their support.”
Skechers USA Inc. has assumed Gala Chair responsibilities, with Rick Graham, SVP of domestic sales, working closely with Two Ten to create a refreshed and memorable evening, aptly titled, “One Team: All In.”
“After what we have experienced while conducting business mostly remote over the past couple of years, the ability to once again connect with old friends, as well as meet new people — and actually face-to-face — is very exciting,” Graham told FN. “There is a genuine feeling of gratitude among those attending to whom I have spoken. They are grateful that they were able to overcome the hardships we all endured both personally and professionally the past couple of years. I sincerely believe that this feeling will be shared by all attending as we endeavor to raise the needed funds to keep Two Ten and all the great work they do healthy and vibrant.”
During the evening, two industry veterans will be honored for their personal and professional contributions to Two Ten and to their community through the years. Cliff Sifford, vice chairman of Shoe Carnival, will receive the T. Kenyon Holly Memorial Award, Two Ten’s highest honor for outstanding humanitarian achievement. OrthoLite founder and CEO Glenn Barrett, meanwhile, will receive the A.A. Bloom Memorial Award for his years of service to the organization.
Said Osborne, “They are two of our long-time supporters, advocates, board members and generous donors, and they’re certainly two of the industry’s finest. When we told them about the fact that they were being honored this year, they were extremely emotional, and we are really excited to honor them.”
In addition to the honorees, part of the program will reflect on the past year and Two Ten’s mission, along with a look back at the impact of COVID-19 on the shoe industry.
During the most concentrated 18 months of COVID-19 — March 2020 through August 2021 — Two Ten granted $4,736,314 in hardship and crisis relief to 6,863 footwear employees in 47 states and Puerto Rico.
In recent years, Two Ten’s work has grown to span emergency and hardship relief, as well as educational scholarships. In addition to monetary aid, Two Ten also provides other support to those facing unexpected life-changing issues.
Other elements of the gala include a virtual component, which is being incorporated for the first time and is aimed at increasing engagement among virtual attendees. And while the night isn’t entirely focused on fundraising, Osborne said there will be moments to donate to the nonprofit.