2017 “Spirit of the Dream” Gala a Success!

Over 100 Dreamers in Attendance as “I Have A Dream” Foundation Honors Roger Staubach, the Honorable David N. Dinkins, Elda Sawyer, and Founder Eugene M. Lang

The “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s 2017 “Spirit of the Dream” gala our most successful gala to date! It was a thrilling evening attended by over 100 Dreamers in all stages of school, college, & career.

Aboard the USS Intrepid, we kicked off the night with our Board Chair, J. Ronald Terwilliger, presenting his longtime friend, Roger Staubach, with the Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award. Roger, a former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, veteran, successful businessman and dedicated philanthropist threw a winning pass (with an autographed football he donated) to a donor during our Fund-A-Cause paddle raise.

Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Roger Staubach with the Honorable David N. Dinkins, recipient of the inaugural David N. Dinkins Social Justice Award

We had the distinct honor of introducing a new award this year. The inaugural David N. Dinkins Social Justice Award was eloquently and graciously presented to Mayor Dinkins by his longtime friend, Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC, Loida Lewis. Mayor Dinkins spoke passionately in his remarks of the importance of public service and emphasized that elected office is an opportunity to affect change and make a difference in peoples’ lives.

Speaking of making a difference in peoples’ lives, we had the opportunity to honor our visionary founder, Eugene M. Lang, who passed away in April. We paid special tribute to his extraordinary passion and dedication that launched the “I Have A Dream” Foundation network, which has gone on to serve 18,000 Dreamers and counting. Mr. Lang’s granddaughter Lucy was presented with an album of pictures and other memories. Several Dreamers spoke about Mr. Lang and their experiences in the “I Have A Dream” program, recalling Mr. Lang’s quote, “you are a Dreamer and Dreamers can do anything.” Then Johnny Rivera, the original program director who was hired by Mr. Lang, led all the Dreamers in attendance in standing for the Dreamer Pledge. It was a poignant moment in the evening seeing so many reciting the pledge together.

Elda Sawyer, a Dreamer Alum from Los Angeles who went on to become an “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles Program Director, was our “Spirit of the Dream” Award recipient this year. Elda truly embodies what it means to be a Dreamer and a “Spirit of the Dream” Award honoree, and continues to give back to her community through her work with underserved youth. Elda’s husband (also a Dreamer!) and children were with her at the gala, and were able to cheer her on during the standing ovation she received for her remarks. We were humbled to hear Elda say, “I have a beautiful life thanks to ‘I Have A Dream’ and their long term commitment.”

“Spirit of the Dream” Award Recipient Elda Sawyer with family

Our “Spirit of the Dream” gala is not only a chance to celebrate our successes but to look to the future. As Donna Lawrence, our President and CEO, pointed out in her speech, with over 25 Million low-income children in U.S. public schools, there are so many more Dreamers out there who need us. It is our obligation to expand our programming to serve more Dreamers and continue to invest in generational impact and change.

During the gala, we were able to raise enough funding from members of the audience—including a poignant gift from Rafael Rodriguez, a member of the original Dreamer class—to support programming for 42 Dreamers for a full year. Programming for each Dreamer—which includes things like individualized tutoring, mentorship, after school activities, college visits, and help with college applications and summer internships—costs about $2,500 per year. Can you help us towards supporting another Dreamer this year? All it takes is 50 gifts of $50—or 25 gifts of $100—to bring a Dreamer one year closer to a college education, a fulfilling career, and a future full of promise and opportunity.

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