Celtic FC Foundation Virtual New York Gala a roaring success

CELTIC FC Foundation hosted its Virtual New York Gala last night (Thursday) and it was a great success, raising a total in the region of $118K/£92K.

In October 2018 and 2019, we held Gala Dinners in Manhattan, in collaboration with our New York Committee and local Celtic Supporters’ Clubs. The events developed a platform to build upon the strong support for Celtic Football Club in the city, and across North America and also helped to form the foundations for a long-term presence of Celtic FC Foundation, within New York City and its surrounding areas.

Our third annual event in Manhattan was planned for last night but, sadly, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible. But the need now is greater than ever, as more and more people are suffering as a result of this crisis and are desperate for our support.

So, it was an honour to go virtual and have so many supporters from both sides of the Atlantic get behind us, as they always do.

Monies raised will be devoted to our ongoing Football for Good Fund (FFGF), to support those who are most vulnerable within our local communities and in North America.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we launched the FFGF in March 2020. Since then, the Fund has risen to over $900K/£700K and we have worked with a host of partners to provide urgent food and essentials to those who are vulnerable – families, individuals, the elderly, the homeless, refugees and frontline medical workers. Our partners include two based in New York – Coalition for the Homeless and Children’s Aid – who received donations to provide vital interventions for families and those who are homeless.

The two-hour Gala was hosted by Hugo Straney, producer and host of the Hugo Straney Show and a familiar face to many supporters due to his regular involvement in the NAFCSC’s Las Vegas Convention.

The evening kicked off with 30 minutes of some of our favourite tunes from Liam McGrandles, who performed at Celtic Park.

Next up was a welcome from Celtic legend and Lisbon Lion, Jim Craig, followed by a feast of magical goals and special moments from the club.

And then, right on cue, we were joined by Celtic’s 9IAR winning captain, Scott Brown for a Q&A with Hugo. Scott shared an array of special memories from the historic nine season long campaign, his hopes for the current season and his desire to continue playing for Celtic for years to come.

Asked to pick his favourite cup win, he choose the completion of the Invincibles Treble in 2017 with that incredible Tom Rogic winner at Hampden. Before heading off to watch the climax of the Scotland v Israel game, Scott emphasised his pride in the work of Celtic FC Foundation and his commitment to continuing his support of the charity’s efforts whenever he’s needed.

Following a video piece providing an overview of the FFGF, Pat Tully hosted the pledge drive in his own inimitable style and the generosity of our supporters was overwhelming, which came as no surprise.

Then we heard from Chair of the New York Gala Committee, Irishman Paul Geaney, a New York-based Celtic supporter who is head of OEM at Avolon. Paul has led the Committee since our first Manhattan event in 2018 and, together with his fellow members, he constantly works tirelessly to deliver success for the Foundation. Once again, the Virtual Gala wouldn’t have been possible without their efforts.

Joining us next for a live Q&A with Hugo was legendary music icon and Celtic fanatic, Sir Rod Stewart. On top of his memorabilia contribution which is currently listed in the Silent Auction, Rod very generously made an incredible donation of $10K to the Foundation. During the Q&A, he shared stories from his illustrious music career and his passion for all things Celtic Football Club. On being asked to pick his starting 11 for October 17, his answer was a simple one – two up front. After enthusing about the work of Celtic FC Foundation and confirming how much he was looking forward to another great night in New York in 2021, he sang a verse of beautiful Irish love song, Grace, acapella.

And just before Rod left us, he announced the lucky winner of our Prize Draw, who won a premium matchday hospitality package at Celtic Park for two people.

Then it was time for the live auction with Pat Tully, featuring just one special item. An exclusive hospitality package for two people to attend a private dinner with members of the Lisbon Lions’ squad, VIP hospitality for a Celtic v Rangers match and a three-night stay in a luxury hotel.

This was complemented by a host of fantastic items in the silent auction, which kicked off on Tuesday of this week and will run until 4pm (New York time)/9pm (Celtic Park time) on Monday, October 12. You can view the listings and place bids HERE

Proceedings were then perfectly rounded off with a second half-hour performance from Liam McGrandles, from Paradise.

Paul Geaney said: “We broke new ground tonight, and what a night it was. In truth, we didn’t know what to expect, but we shouldn’t have worried.

“The format was new but the Celtic support showed the same generosity that it is world-renowned for.

“The funds raised will go straight to supporting those on the margins of society who have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic – with food and other essentials being distributed to the needy close to home and also in many other areas including Dublin and New York.

“A huge thank you to the organising committee and the fabulous Celtic FC Foundation team, and to everyone who played a role in making it such a success.”

Celtic FC Foundation Chief Executive, Tony Hamilton, added: “We can’t continue our work without Paul and the NY Committee, and the continual backing of the worldwide Celtic support.

“Our sincere thanks to all of them and our stars in Scott and Rod, Jim, Liam, Hugo and Pat. We’re already planning being back in Manhattan in person this time next year.”

We would like to thank Jim Craig, Scott Brown, Sir Rod Stewart, Paul Geaney and our Committee, our CSCs and every supporter who joined us for the Virtual Gala, those who donated prizes for the auction and silent auction, Liam McGrandles, Pat Tully and our host, Hugo Straney.

Thank you for helping to make a difference through the FFGF to the lives of those who are most vulnerable on both sides of the Atlantic, in these challenging times.