Ice Ball 2017 An Unprecedented Success

Thirteen proved to be a lucky number as Big Brothers Big Sisters’ 13th annual Ice Ball gala raised a record-breaking $670,000 for the organization, with donations still coming in and final numbers expected to exceed this early total.

Despite inclement weather, the largest fundraising event for BBBS drew a capacity crowd of over 800 people to the JW Marriott on Saturday, August 26. The black-tie affair was an elegant evening focused on raising funds to create life-changing friendships between at-risk youth and caring adult mentors.

“The 2017 Ice Ball Gala was a big success on every level, far exceeding our expectations,” said Brent Fields, CEO of BBBS. “We had record attendance, amazing energy and an unprecedented amount of funds raised to support our mission of helping children succeed in life. The funds raised at Ice Ball, and throughout the year, allow us to serve and support close to 1,000 mentoring matches and to move as many children off our waiting list as possible. A big ‘thank you’ to all those who attended and to our sponsors for helping create an event that will be forever changing lives.”

Bigs and Littles were on hand to welcome guests as greeters. The festive evening began with a number of exciting activities including a silent auction, a raffle, a Big Board mini live auction, Kendra Scott Mystery Boxes, and a photo booth with the signature Ice Ball ice sculpture.

The Big Board auction was new to this year’s event and featured an assortment of special items such as a golf flag autographed by PGA champion Jordan Spieth, SXSW interactive badges, a Uchiko dinner for 4, and a San Antonio Spurs VIP experience, among others.

Guests were lead into the ballroom by The Memphis Train Revue, a Dixieland band, where they enjoyed a seated dinner, the evening’s program, and a live auction, which offered opportunities to win exclusive experiences and trips including a UT tailgate party, flag football with Colt McCoy, trips to Paris and Cabo San Lucas, tickets for the 2018 Dell Match Play Golf Championship, and a “choose your own adventure” passport package featuring a choice of trips to 25 different world-wide destinations. Excitement filled the room as the crowd participated in games and the live auction led by auctioneer Gayle Stallings and emcee Mike Barnes, KVUE Sports Director.

During the ‘Fund A Friendship’ portion of the evening guests were invited to make donations to help fund more mentoring relationships. A moving video told the story of Big Sister Maggie, and her Little Sister, Kirida’s, relationship. Kirida, a recent high school graduate who is beginning her first semester at Texas A&M University, thanked the crowd for helping to make life-changing friendships like the one she has enjoyed with Maggie possible. Their story provided a powerful example of the impact BBBS’ mentoring program has on children, families, volunteers, and the community as a whole.

“I was absolutely amazed by the turnout and by the enthusiastic support our Central Texas community showed at Ice Ball!” said Carlos Barbosa, BBBS’ Board Chair. “We were bracing for the rain, but what an amazing show of support we received! Huge thanks to all who came out, and to those who couldn’t make it but still found ways to support our agency!”

Following the auction, the celebration continued with dancing to music provided by The Memphis Train Revue. It was the perfect end to an evening that will make a lifetime of difference for children and families in Central Texas.

Special thanks to our lead sponsors:

BB&T; Connie and Bill Nelson, RSM, Toni Schach and Michael Forte, US Micro Products; Henna Chevrolet; Gustavo Artaza, ASK Charitable Foundation, ATX Life Coaching, Sam Bassett, Chilligence, General Motors, Heather and Dominick Granato, HEB, Pamela and Will Hurley, Maxwell, Locke & Ritter LLP, Pape-Dawson Engineers, Parsley Energy, ScaleFactor, Wells Fargo, and the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation.

See our Flickr album of event photos here

See Kirida and Maggie’s story, produced by Castleview Productions, here

BB&T: Making A Difference

It’s been 3 years since BB&T bank signed up to be a Diamond Sponsor for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Ice Ball gala. During that time, the company has not only seen BBBS grow and change, the company’s relationship with BBBS has grown and changed as well.

“Three years ago, we were looking to further support the community by partnering with an organization that aligned with our values, and whose mission fit well with BB&T’s mission – part of which is to make the world a better place to be,” said Blake Absher, BB&T’s Austin Market President and a former Big Brother. “BBBS was near and dear to us. We liked that funds raised for BBBS would go back to our community and to supporting youth.”

The relationship between BB&T and BBBS proved to be a perfect match and each year BB&T’s impact on, and support for, BBBS has grown. Over the past three years, the company has increased annual donations for the Ice Ball Gala through an employee-led fundraising campaign, spread the word about BBBS’ work and mission to the organization’s employees, clients, friends and associates, and recruited others to support BBBS as volunteers, mentors and donors. It’s a growth no one really saw coming.

“In the beginning, we knew we wanted to connect our associates with BBBS. We wanted to be more than a gala sponsor. We wanted our team to feel invested in the agency’s mission,” Blake said. “But seeing how things have grown, and how passionate and involved our employees have become, is really amazing,”

“We have employees who have taken leadership roles in fundraising and advocacy, joined committees, and who want to become Bigs themselves. We have associates who are out there championing BBBS’ work while also championing BB&T’s mission. I didn’t think it would grow like this,” Blake admitted. “The snowball effect has been incredible. Our partnership has affected our organization, our employees and our clients. In addition to our own team members, we now have clients coming in as Ice Ball sponsors, joining the Ice Ball host committee, and then leveraging their own networks to fundraise for BBBS. Seeing this evolution has really been rewarding.”

“I think our involvement with BBBS has brought our organization together city-wide,” said Cathy Haines, BB&T’s Retail and Small Business Leader, and a former Big Sister. “We have 15 branches in Austin. Fundraising for BBBS has fostered friendly competition among all our teams and teammates. We look forward to giving back to BBBS, and we gain as much as we give. BBBS is a wonderful organization that we have all got behind, and our partnership with BBBS makes us proud.”

BB&T’s support for BBBS extends far beyond the walls of the company. “I help manage the annual fundraising campaign from the branch level, and I would definitely say that we do take it home with us,” said Susan McNeight, BB&T’s Market Leader, Onion Creek Branch. “Many of our team members not only try to raise funds through their interactions at the bank, but they also go home and tell their friends and families what they’re doing. They go on social media and say ‘Hey, I’m fundraising for BBBS. Would you consider donating?’”

“One of our tellers was a former Little, and our relationship with BBBS really means something special to her. And again, she talks to everybody she knows and tries to raise funds,” Susan said.

BB&T’s employees are also committing to more personal involvement with BBBS as well. “Every year, I’ve gotten more involved,” said Susan, who is currently a member of the Ice Ball Host Committee. “Ultimately, I’d like to become a Big Sister.”

BB&T’s support for BBBS not only brings their employees together, it also brings the company closer to its clients. “I reached out to my personal network when I was fundraising last year and I got a response from a company that donated $3,000, which I was not expecting at all,” Susan continued.  “The owner said ‘I just wanted to donate. I hope this contribution helps you reach your goal. My daughter is a Big in San Antonio, and BBBS is an organization I’m really proud of and believe in.’ He and his wife have been mentors to young kids in the past, so our campaign really touched him, and I’d had no idea. I was just making a request and his response was a surprise. This year, when I reached out to them again, they bought a table at Ice Ball. They’re coming to the gala from San Antonio and bringing some of their clients with them.”

Through all of the fundraising and networking however, BB&T never loses sight of the fact that the real goal of their activity is to get kids off of BBBS’ waiting list and into positive mentoring relationships. “That’s really been a motivating, driving factor,” Blake said. “We know that there are still 600 kids out there who are waiting to be matched with mentors of their own, and that’s something that drives us to tell every client who comes through the door about our partnership with BBBS.”

“BBBS has just moved into a new building that will give them room to grow. The agency’s program metrics are at an all-time high, and the organization has won a number of awards for program quality and impact. Now BBBS needs to increase its financial resources in order to serve more kids. We want to help make that happen.”

“I handle weekly calls with the captains of each branch and we talk about how much we have raised and how many kids those funds will get off the waiting list,” Susan said. “That makes the impact of our efforts very real and very personal. We know our activities are affecting kids’ lives.”

“When you look at the impact that BBBS makes on an individual basis, the difference a one-to-one relationship can make in a child’s life, it is very powerful,” Cathy added. “As former Bigs, Blake and I have witnessed this first-hand. To me, communicating that message is really important. Helping children, helping community members, and making the world a better place is an important part of what we do at BB&T. Working with BBBS allows us to put our mission into action.”

“At BB&T we have a saying that ‘No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.’  Blake concluded, “But, as our relationship with BBBS shows, by working together, we can do even more.”

Ice Ball 2017 – Live Auction Package Preview!

Package #1 – Hook ‘Em Horns Tailgate

Heckling Optional

Tailgating – that long-held practice of grilling, drinking, and eating in a game day parking lot. When the University of Texas Longhorns suit up this season, where will you be? Forty (40) lucky Horns fans will be tailgating at the Oklahoma State game in Austin on October 21st!

Perfect for your big family, large group of friends, or clients from out of town, this tailgate includes the following:

  • Premium reserved location
  • 20’ x 20’ tent
  • 15 tailgate chairs
  • Three 6’ tables with linens
  • Two 120-quart coolers with 40 pounds of ice in each
  • Paper plates, paper towels, cups, utensils and koozies
  • Personalized sign

Gebby’s BBQ will cater your epic tailgate while you enjoy ice cold beer from Guns & Oil Brewing Co. and a case of vodka from Dripping Springs Vodka.

Hook ’em Horns!

Special thanks to Gebbys BBQ, Guns & Oil Brewing Co., and Dripping Springs Vodka.

 

Package #2 – Altitude Adjustment

Breckenridge,  Colorado

From shopping to nightlife and dining to culture, you can kick it up or kick back, whatever your mood, in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Take a stroll down historic Main Street and feel the vibrant spirit of eclectic boutiques and après-ski cheer, or relax fireside in a cozy café.

Enjoy a week-long trip for four (4) to Crystal Peak Lodge, a ski-in ski-out resort at the base of Breckenridge’s Peak 7. The 2 bedroom/2 bath condo includes a full kitchen, and access to various resort amenities. Just a 5-minute gondola ride to use your $100 gift card for a tour and tasting at Breckenridge Brewery. And don’t worry about the airfare, 2 Southwest Airlines domestic round-trip tickets are included!

Dates subject to availability. Expires August 31, 2018.

Special thanks to Connie and Bill Nelson, and Southwest Airlines.

 

Package #3 – Paris + Girls = Fun

Paris is Always a Good Idea

Especially when you and 3 of your besties are savoring the sights of the City of Lights for 5 nights!

Stay in a private flat located near the Eiffel Tower on the border of the 7th and 15th arrondissements. There is a well- equipped kitchen for your own culinary adventures or you can visit sidewalk cafes on your way to the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées & Arc de Triomphe. Pedal off your indulgences with 2 Fat Tire Bicycle Tours, and then connect and catch up over dinner at Le Suffren in Paris. On est bien, là.

Dates subject to availability. Expires August 31, 2018

Special thanks to Kelly and David Mebane, and Le Suffren

 

Package #4 – Qué Hermosa

Mexico Retreat for 8

Smell the salt in the air as the warm winds caress your skin at the luxurious Hacienda Beach Club and Residences in sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Your 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath villa comfortably sleeps 8 during your 5-night stay. Relax in the elegant living area or by the infinity-edge pool while gazing over breathtaking views of this 22-acre, $230 million private beach club and residential community. In addition to all this, you and your guests will also enjoy a magical swim with the dolphins 20 minutes down the road in San Jose del Cabo.

Expires December 15, 2018. Excludes holidays and spring break weeks.

Special thanks to Amy and Chris Ellis, and John Gordon Olson.

 

Package #5 – Flag Football with Colt McCoy

Play with Longhorn Legends

Colt McCoy, Texas Longhorn and Quarterback for the Washington Redskins, is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a game of flag football at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School with him and special guest, UT and NFL wide receiver Jaxon Shipley. You and 11 of your buddies will play with some of the Longhorn greats. This is a “family friendly pick up game” with both kids and adults mixed in on both teams to keep it fun.

Relax and enjoy a BBQ picnic from Rudy’s BBQ after your game. A photographer and videographer will be provided to commemorate this special event.

Winner has the option of choosing one of the following dates:

  • Sunday, February 25, 2018
  • Sunday, March 4, 2018

Dates could change based on availability.

Expires August 31, 2018.

Special thanks to Rachel and Colt McCoy, Rudy’s BBQ, and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.

 

Package #6 – The Last Great Habitat

King Ranch Hunt

Board a private jet and cruise on down to one of the most exclusive hunting destinations in America and one of the Lone Star State’s most iconic treasures, King Ranch.

Package includes one experienced guide, truck, lunch, and refreshments for 2 hunters and up to one additional guest. Each hunter has a choice of harvesting 1 Nilgai bull, OR a combination of Nilgai cows, feral hogs, and/or javelinas for the same value. Processing included.

Expires October 31, 2018.  February — April are the best months for Nilgai hunts.

Special thanks to Ashley and Justin Yarborough, and El Campo Game Processing, Inc.

 

Package #7 – 2018 Dell Match Play

The Primo Package

Four (4) 360 Club Tent passes for the Dell Match Play World Golf Championship tournament, March 21 – 25, right here in Austin. Watch the top 64 players in the world compete in this climate-controlled venue that features a double decker structure, all-inclusive food and beverages, and golf views from the 16th tee.

Match Play is the unique event you are looking for when it comes to corporate networking, client services, and entertainment for your guests. Work on your swing with a round of golf for 4 at the exclusive Spanish Oaks Golf Club.

Spanish Oaks Expiration August 31, 2018.

Special thanks to Rachel and Colt McCoy, and Spanish Oaks Golf Club.

 

Package #8 – Party with the Pit Master

at Banger’s

Learn the secrets of Texas and Southern style BBQ from one of the best in the business. Banger’s own Ted Prater has been an accomplished Chef and Pit Master for decades and he’s been a hunter, fisherman, and avid outdoorsman for even longer. For this master class, Chef Ted is going to focus on the holy grail of Texas BBQ, the brisket.

This BBQ Master Class includes:

  • Up to 20 attendees
  • A private, roped off section of the beer garden to eat, drink, mingle and learn
  • Live country band
  • $500 bar tab
  • Step-by-step lesson on cleaning, smoking and seasoning a brisket
  • Every attendee will get to take home 1/2 of a fully cooked brisket
  • Step-by-step lesson on how to make BBQ Every attendee will receive some sauce to take home
  • Step-by-step lesson on how to make BBQ Every attendee will also be given samples to take home
  • Fresh BBQ lunch

Details and restrictions: Attendee must coordinate with Banger’s Event Coordinator to schedule a date. Banger’s must have at least one month’s notice. Event dates are entirely subject to Banger’s availability. Event time: 12-4 pm. No Sundays.

Expiration: August 26, 2018.

Special thanks to Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden.

 

Package #9 – Choose Your Own Adventure!

London, Montreal, Cupecoy, New York

Enjoy a 4-night stay in any one of our 25 residences in highly sought-after beach, mountain, city and leisure destinations. The Passport Program provides you with the flexibility to choose your destination after purchasing the trip. You have 18 months to decide! In addition to flexibility, take advantage of pre-trip planning services and a local concierge – both included with the Passport Program.

Destinations include:

  • Aspen, Colorado
  • Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Cupecoy, St. Maarten
  • Deer Valley, Utah
  • Guanacaste, Costa Rica
  • London, England
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • Miami, Florida
  • Montreal, Canada
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York City, New York
  • Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina
  • Placencia, Belize
  • Playa del Carmen, Mexico
  • Punta Mita, Mexico
  • San Francisco, California
  • Sonoma, California
  • Watersound/30A, Florida

The nights must be used during 1 trip. At least one person staying at the residence must be over the age of 25. You have 18 months from the date of purchase to use your Passport Program trip. Restricted dates vary based on location and time of year.

The Ice Ball 2017 Host Committee: Having A Ball

As the Texas summer heats up, there’s one cool thing you can count on – Big Brothers Big Sisters’ 2017 Ice Ball gala set for August 26 at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Austin. The Ice Ball Host Committee has been hard at work making plans and preparations for this major event – one of the largest fundraisers for the organization.

Christine and Blake Absher are chairing this year’s Ice Ball gala and have been involved with the organization off and on since 2008. “Our connection with BBBS began in Austin when I was a Big Brother for about 4 years,” said Blake, Austin market president of BB&T, the Diamond sponsor of this year’s event. “We moved to Houston for a few years, and then, when we returned to Austin, we knew we wanted to be involved with BBBS in some way. The Ice Ball Host Committee sounded interesting, and we’d never done anything like that before.”

Now, having been involved with Ice Ball for several years, Christine and Blake felt the moment was right to become even more involved in the event. “2017 is a great time to be event chairs,” Blake continued. “The agency has great momentum, the organization’s program metrics are at an all-time high, and we’ve been groomed for the last couple of years to further carry the Ice Ball baton.”

In accepting the leadership role, they’ve found themselves working with a great team. “The Ice Ball Host Committee is made up of an extraordinary group of people,” said Christine. “And they’ve become family. They are creative and selfless, giving out of the goodness of their hearts. They’ve been so inspiring and their enthusiasm is contagious. For many of them, this is their first connection with Big Brothers Big Sisters. They are raising money for a cause they’ve just come to care about, and they’re doing it so well.”

Team members heartily agree. “The members of the committee are focused, engaged and eager to contribute to the success of this year’s event,” said Connie Nelson. She and her husband Bill have been a Big Couple since 2011, worked as bid spotters for the Ice Ball that year, and subsequently served as Ice Ball Chairs in 2014 and 2015.

“Bill and I are honored to be serving on this year’s Ice Ball Host Committee,” Connie remarked. “The Ice Ball is SO important! It’s the largest BBBS fundraiser and monies raised help get kids off the waiting list and into the life-changing mentoring relationships they deserve. Guests attending the Ice Ball walk away with greater appreciation for everything BBBS does for Central Texas’ youth. Our 2017 chairs, Blake and Christine, are natural leaders with a passion for BBBS.”

Lauren Petrowski, news anchor for Fox 7, shares that passion for the agency and the event as well. “I look forward to the Host Committee meetings, seeing the other committee members, and knowing we’re making great things happen,” she said.

Lauren served as a Big Sister for 5 years and is still in contact with her Little Sister. “I was fortunate to have two loving, supportive parents growing up. Not every child has that, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the same opportunities to be happy and successful in life. Even with two parents, many kids can benefit from having additional positive influences in their lives. That’s what BBBS provides through mentorships, and I’m honored to help support an organization that does that.”

“As part of the Ice Ball Host Committee, it is also incredible to see the community and local businesses stepping up to help BBBS.”

Joanna Just of RSM, a Gold sponsor for the event, adds, “Ice Ball is a signature event that has grown over the years. To see where the event started and what it has become, is astonishing.  Ice Ball supports the wonderful things that BBBS does for children in our community.”

Not only is the team working to raise more dollars, new community connections are being made as well. “There are a lot of new people involved in this year’s event,” Christine continued. Blake agreed, adding, “We have a significant number of new donors. We are grateful for donors who’ve supported this event for years. It’s also a testament to the 2017 Host Committee members’ efforts that they have reached out to their own personal networks and friends to establish new relationships on behalf of the gala and BBBS.”

“I appreciate how the committee members have come together to support this event personally because of their dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters’ work,” Joanna added.

This year’s Ice Ball not only has new sponsors, it also has a new location at the J.W. Marriott. “There’s an excitement and a freshness with the new venue and the move downtown,” Christine said. There are also new live auction packages and new programming.

And make no mistake, it is a fun night for all involved. “It is such a fabulous night. Without a doubt, you’re going to have a good time,” Lauren said. “But for me, I love to see the room full of hundreds of people all coming together because they care about kids in our community having the best opportunities, and the brightest futures, possible.”

“The Ice Ball is the coolest place to be in August,” Connie added. “Great food, entertainment, incredible silent and live auction packages, and so much more. Bill and I love seeing friends at the Ice Ball year after year, and meeting new people who will enjoy a wonderful evening and learn more about BBBS!”

How does the Ice Ball differ from other galas around town? “Every dollar raised impacts children and families here in our community,” said Christine. “The fundraising is so local.” “It’s all about supporting underprivileged youth, having a positive impact on children’s lives, and educating people about BBBS” Blake added.

After months of planning and preparation, the night itself is a culminating celebration. “The event is a crescendo of a lot of work,” Blake said. “At the gala itself you reminisce about what everyone has done to make the event happen. I enjoy visiting with all of these amazing people and sharing what we’ve done collectively. It’s like going and seeing 800 of your closest friends,” he laughed.

In a word…

“Ice Ball is unforgettable,” said Lauren.

“It’s amazing,” said Joanna.

“It’s inspiring,” said Connie.

Don’t miss this cool, spectacular, life-changing event set for August 26, 2017 at the J.W. Marriott. You can learn more and get your tickets now at www.austiniceball.org.