What: Speak Up for Kids event to raise funds for the Bulloch County Boys & Girls Club
Where: Georgia Southern University’s Performing Arts Center
When: May 24, 7 p.m.
After leading the Georgia Bulldogs to a Rose Bowl win and a National Championship game in his second season as head coach, Kirby Smart is coming to Statesboro to help raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County.
Smart and another University of Georgia football alumnus, current ESPN “College GameDay” analyst David Pollack, will speak to the crowd during the Speak Up for Kids event, May 24 at Georgia Southern University’s Performing Arts Center.
Pollack, 2002 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, 2004 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time All-America selection while with the Bulldogs, went on to play briefly for the Cincinnati Bengals before an injury forced his retirement from the NFL.
Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County CEO Mike Jones hopes to have donors lined up as event sponsors by the end of April.
“Everything is on go, the contracts have been signed,” Jones said Thursday. “We’re just currently in the process of securing the event sponsors, and we anticipate individual tickets going on sale around May 1.”
Prices of individual tickets will not be announced until they are ready for sale, he said.
Meanwhile, sponsorship levels of $1,250; $2,500; $5,000 and $10,000 are open to individuals and organizations able to give that much in support of the Boys & Girls Club’s programs. At the various levels, sponsors will get from five preferred to 15 reserved seats and various grades of autographed UGA and SEC memorabilia.
All sponsorship packages include access to a meet-and-greet with Smart and Pollack before the 7 p.m. main program in the PAC auditorium. Photo opportunities with the guest speakers and autographed prints of the photos are also part of the packages.
Individual ticket purchasers will also have the option of attending the meet-and-greet for a higher-priced ticket. Doors to the Performing Arts Center will probably open at 6:30 p.m., Jones said, and a silent auction, with some autographed memorabilia as well as some non-football items, will be held in the PAC lobby.
On stage at 7 p.m., Smart and Pollack will be introduced, make opening remarks and then be asked questions by a moderator, Jones said.
This event, which does not include a meal, is replacing the Boys & Girls Club’s annual fundraising dinner for 2018 only, he said. Long called the Steak & Burger Dinner, the event was renamed the Kids & Community Gala last year. It has long featured celebrity speakers, including Lou Ferrigno in 2016 and Erik Estrada in 2017.
Some months ago the executive director of another Boys & Girls Club, elsewhere in Georgia, told Jones that the other club had brought Coach Kirby Smart in as guest speaker for its fundraiser. Smart had not been a Boys & Girls Club member himself, but talked to his players and assistant coaches while preparing for the event.
“A significant number indicated that they had attended the club in their local community and began telling him the impact that the programs had on them as youngsters,” Jones said. “So it changed his focus, changed his understanding of the significance that afterschool programs and Boys & Girls Clubs have on the kids.”
Twice the seating
Another motivation for inviting Smart to speak this year was obvious.
“Based on the success of the last couple of seasons and of course making it to the National Championship game this year, we know that there’s a lot of interest in the Georgia Bulldogs and figured there would be equally a lot of interest here locally to see him,” Jones said.
For this reason, the club’s adult leaders and supporters chose to hold a stage event in the 825-seat PAC auditorium instead of a dinner in the Nessmith-Lane Ballroom, he said. With tables, the ballroom typically would seat about 400 people.
Information about the event is on the website, https://bgcbulloch.org
https://bgcbulloch.org/. The Boys & Girls Club’s office phone number is (912) 764-9696.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.