Fancy pants…look out BigCat is invited to a Black Tie and Tennis shoes Gala! I think this is my first “Gala.” I really don’t know what Gala means but I’ll tell you what my experience was like. This is the 3rd Annual My Hero Black Tie/Tennis Shoes Gala, held at the Arena, Presented by Deloitte and about 30 other sponsors. The event is to raise money for the Bobcats Youth Foundation and Presbyterian Hospital/Bobcats Community Care Cruiser. I was there as a casual observer, don’t really have the clout or funds that necessitate my invitation but I was privileged and honored to be there.
I ended up rolling solo, last minute cancellation really couldn’t find anybody with the attire last minute and honestly, I didn’t mind so much. You drive up to the arena on the 5th street side, my Hyundai fit right in with all the doctors and players cars. I got out, walked up the blue carpet, checked in and there I was. The main lobby/atrium was decorated well with a really nice band. Huge circular buffet in the center; all the food looked good but I was in a suit that I haven’t worn since my grandfathers funeral 4 years ago and I haven’t really kept the weight off. I did however take full advantage of both bars. Everyone looked great. Lots of good looking, monied, well dressed folks. The tennis shoes are an interesting touch and yes, there was one pair Air Jordan XI’s which I personally think was the whole reasoning behind the Tux/Tennis Shoes in the first place.
NBA players stand out in a crowd. Nazr, Tyson Chandler, Gerald Wallace, Alexis, Gahna Diop pretty much towered. Once the evening moved to the floor of the arena was when the real fun started. They had a great set up with lounge areas in the corners drapes and curtains made it feel a bit more intimate than a 20k seat arena. The program was kicked off by Mike Solarte from News 14 Carolinas who introduced Fred Whitfield and Mark Billings from Presbyterian Hospital, the three acted as hosts. Dinner was outstanding. It was southwestern with a tamale, some flank steak, roasted corn medley and rice. It was all made in house and well done by Levy Restaurants.
The honorees for the evening were “heroes” from the community. One was a doctor who balanced time as a full time physician, administrator and teacher. The next was a woman who raised money, taught, brought groups together and started a teen center. The final honoree was a champion for Big Brother Big Sister, Feed the Children and of the NCAA variety. I really would encourage you to read about them on the Bobcats.com write-up.
Inspiring and real Heroes in what they do. The next item on the agenda was where the excitement kicked up a bit. Our buddy here at BCP, Michael Thompson became auctioneer for 4 exclusive experiences. First up was a Grand Opera Experience, a visit with the Maestro, dinner, tickets to Carmen and a meet and greet with the Soprano star of the show. Vlade Radmonovic was driving up the bidding but ended up losing out. Next up was a golf outing with Rookie of the Year front runner (Preseason unofficial and pretty much making that up myself) Gerald Henderson, his dad and a guest of the winner’s choosing at Quail Hollow. This one was what I would have gone for. Next was a full cardiovascular check up by some of the top cardio folks at Presbyterian. The final item was a big deal, Gerald Wallace hosting a full pizza and video game party in the players lounge at the arena for 20 kids. This one was hot between Tyson Chandler and Vlade, they drove the price up big time. As Michael told me after, it’s pretty easy to run an auction with a room full of doctors and ball players. A suprise to the auctioneer, a napkin was handed to Mike Solarte with a great experien: All Star weekend in Dallas. Tickets to all the big events, airfare, dinner, 3 nights hotel, a true suprise brought to you by Fred Whitfield. Litterally ooos and ahhs from this crowd. The bidding on this one went fast and ended quite high.
The highlight for me was meeting and talking with a table full of great people and personalities. Also, I got to meet Raymond Felton and really had a nice, brief talk with him. The Bobcats are doing well to bring people and money out to support people who need it through the Bobcats Youth Foundation and the Community Care Cruiser. That thing is a 40 foot doctors office on wheels. It’s had over 2,000 kids visit, they receive vaccinations, check ups simple procedures that many of us take for granted. It’s harder and harder to get access for many people. Mark Billings spoke about unemployment and losing a job not only meant losing that paycheck but also losing health insurance.
For me, the Bobcats impressed me last night and I was grateful to them for reaching out to me as a representative of the “blogosphere” and for honoring the people who should be and raising money for a great charity and a tangible way of getting the needs for people who truely have them taken care of. I applaud the players, coaches and executive group of the Bobcats as well as the group from Presbyterian Hospital and all the sponsors for a great event.