Celtic FC Foundation hosted its second New York Gala Dinner in Manhattan last night (Thursday) and it was a huge success, raising a staggering net total in excess of $300,000.
The Sporting ‘Honoree’ was Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, with Jim Clerkin, President and CEO of Moet Hennessy USA, our Business ‘Honoree’. Joining them as a very special guest was Sir Rod Stewart, as well as Fergus McCann and former Celt, Gary Mackay-Steven.
The venue was a private members’ club in the city and the event was attended by around 270 guests, including businesses, individuals and representatives from the local Celtic Supporters’ Clubs across the Eastern Seaboard. Our ‘Treble Treble’ sponsors for the evening were Avolon, Belvedere Vodka , Magners, Moet Hennessy and Southern Glazer’s Wines and Spirits.
Funds raised will support delivery of a new three-strand ‘Summer Games’ project – in Glasgow, Ireland and New York – during the vital school holiday periods. It will involve the provision of three nutritious meals a day, plus a host of healthy activities for children and young people who are considered to be among the most vulnerable during breaks from school (eg: those living in poverty, looked after children and young carers).
Ultimately, the Summer Games project aims to make a lasting impact in a short time, realising positive outcomes for children and young people which can improve their quality of life, while also ensuring that they do not go hungry throughout the school holiday period.
In association with our Business Honoree, Jim Clerkin, a portion of the proceeds from the event will also be devoted to delivering a project with an organisation close to his heart, and of which he is indeed Chairman, Co-operation Ireland.
Through this partnership, we will aim to jointly deliver a project in Ireland that will promote positive lifestyle choices, cross-community working and develop young leaders from within the local communities.
Hosted by Hugo Straney, who many Celtic supporters will know from the NAFCSC’s events such as the Las Vegas Convention, the evening kicked off with a stunning performance of O Mio Babbino Caro by American Soprano, Julia Kermott, who joined us for the second year in a row.
This was followed by an introduction video piece on the work of Celtic FC Foundation, a few words from Foundation Chief Executive, Tony Hamilton, and a gift presentation to Sir Rod Stewart from Celtic FC Foundation Chairman, Chris Traynor.
After dinner, Stephen Glancey – Group CEO of club sponsor C&C and Trustee of Celtic FC Foundation – presented the first Honoree award of the evening to Jim Clerkin. Jim then spoke of his love for Celtic, adoration of Jock Stein and the Lisbon Lions and his admiration for Neil Lennon and the history he is continuing to make at the club. He also enthused about his pride around Co-operation Ireland’s association with Celtic FC Foundation.
Following a video piece highlighting the projects funded as a result of last year’s dinner and confirmation of where funds will be directed this time around, and a touching video tribute to Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers while Julia Kermott sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, Pat Tully hosted the auction and pledge drive in his own inimitable style.
The live auction contained a total of seven outstanding prizes – including a unique portrait commission by celebrated Scottish artist, Gerard Burns, a stunning Napa Valley Vineyard experience donated by Moet Hennessy, a Sir Rod Stewart meet-and-greet package, VIP experiences at the Superbowl via Budweiser and Notre Dame from Tom Mendoza and exclusive golf packages courtesy of Fergus McCann and Roger Marment. These were complemented by a host of fantastic items in the silent auction.
And Sir Rod Stewart ensured it was unlike any live auction New York City had ever witnessed before. After being a winning bidder for the Gerard Burns lot, Sir Rod ensured a mammoth $25,000 was raised through his Meet-and-Greet package with an impromptu, a capella, medley of his greatest hits.
It was a stunning segment in the evening, with every guest on their feet, belting out a few classics with the man himself. The venue was well and truly rocking.
Next up was Chair of the Gala Dinner Committee, Irishman Paul Geaney, a New York-based Celtic supporter who is Head of OEM at Avolon. Together with the other members of the Committee, Paul worked tirelessly to deliver a successful event for the Foundation and it wouldn’t have been possible without their efforts.
Paul made the final presentation of the evening to Neil Lennon before the Celtic manager shared wonderful memories and his hopes and dreams for the future through a Q&A session.
The formal proceedings were then rounded off by a Liam McGrandles live set which ensured we brought a piece of Celtic Park to New York City.
Paul Geaney said: “The aim this year was to build on the success of our inaugural Gala Dinner in the city in 2018 and take the next step in extending awareness of the work of the Foundation and enhancing its profile and reputation.
“To surpass last year’s net total of $200k by such a substantial margin was remarkable and is testament to the tremendous efforts of my fellow Committee members and those who came out in great numbers to support the event.
“However, the success of the evening was due, in no small measure, to the dedication and support of our Honorees, Jim Clerkin and Neil Lennon, who both played such a crucial role in helping us achieve an incredible result. And I must give special mention to Sir Rod Stewart who was absolutely sensational.
“We now look forward to seeing delivery of the Summer Games project in Glasgow, Ireland and New York and celebrating our treble of Gala Dinners in NYC in 2020.”
Celtic FC Foundation Chief Executive, Tony Hamilton, added: “Our second year in New York was fantastic on so many levels for Celtic FC Foundation. First and foremost it’s about feeding kids in Scotland, Ireland and in New York and we’re able to do more of that now, thanks to the generosity of those who bought places, supported our auctions and attended our gala dinner.
“There are so many people to thank but special thanks must go to the gala dinner committee led by Paul Geaney and our two honorees – Jim Clerkin and Neil Lennon – who were magnificent on the night and in the build-up to the event.
“Everyone at Celtic FC Foundation is delighted with the outcome and we’re already thinking about what we could do a year from now.”
We would like to thank Neil Lennon, Jim Clerkin, Paul Geaney and our Committee, Sir Rod Stewart, Fergus McCann, Neil Lennon, Gary Mackay-Steven, Avolon, Belvedere Vodka, Magners, Moet Hennessy and Southern Glazer’s Wines and Spirits, every table and ticket holder, our local Celtic Supporters’ Clubs, those who donated prizes for the auctions and complimentary drinks and gifts, Julia Kermott, Liam McGrandles, Pat Tully and our host, Hugo Straney.
Please don’t ever underestimate the difference you have made.