That’s the spirit!
“The success of the 2018 Spirit of Excellence Gala is a testament to the unwavering support the Irvine community has for education,” said Neda Eaton, president and CEO of IPSF. “Our sponsors and gala committee showed tremendous leadership, which resulted in our most successful event yet. The funds raised will make an impact in the educational experience of over 35,000 students in our community.”
Founded in 1996 by concerned parents and community leaders, IPSF sponsors enrichment programs and provides financial support to ensure educational excellence in Irvine schools.
It’s also very cool that the gala honors IUSD alums that have done well after graduating from high school in the district. This year’s Spirit of Excellence honorees are:
• Spirit of Excellence in Music — Andy Dodd, award winning songwriter and producer of over 50 million albums sold worldwide (Woodbridge High School, Class of 1995)
• Spirit of Excellence in Athletics — Benny Feilhaber, Major League Soccer midfielder for Los Angeles Football Club, USA National Team (Northwood High School, Class of 2003)
• Spirit of Excellence in Service — Colonel Craig Allton, Highly decorated United States Air Force Security Forces Officer (University High School, Class of 1987)
The evening featured a moving musical duet by Sylvia Ruszat, senior at Woodbridge High School, and Fiori Lee, 6th grader at Alderwood Elementary, who sang “Who I Am,” written by honoree, Andy Dodd.
The event at KIA Motors America in Irvine kicked off with a red carpet arrival, cocktail reception and silent auction, which included more than 60 exclusive items. The auction included a wine trip to Bordeaux, France donated by Total Wine and More, a chef’s tasting dinner at ARC restaurant, and autographed sports memorabilia from athletes Laker LeBron James and Duck Ryan Getzlaf.
The live auction during dinner featured six amazing experiences, including a private pop-up dinner with Chef Dee Nguyen of Break of Dawn. His breakfast restaurant in Laguna Hills is amazing, as is his story, featured recently on the “Today Show.” FivePoint was the presenting sponsor again: it’s the ninth consecutive year. Other corporate sponsors included GoogleFiber, Kading Briggs LLP, BrightView, FUTEK and Neiman Marcus, Fashion Island.
“We are so honored to have the opportunity to showcase the talent and achievements of both current and former students that have become the hallmark of Irvine Unified School District,” Eaton said of the event. “Our annual gala is a shining example of how community support of education can effect real change for our young people. We are proud to facilitate public-private partnerships that provide innovative programs and opportunities to inspire students to follow their dreams and make the world a better a place.”