With fire and hula dancers, live island music, tropical flora, Tiki gods, a monsoon downpour followed by a colorful rainbow arching through the skyline, it certainly was not just another day as paradise as Broward Education Foundation hosted its annual signature event, BrightStar Credit Union’s “Escape to Tropical Paradise” at the Harbor Beach Marriott in Fort Lauderdale.
As last year’s signature event was cancelled due to the pandemic, Broward Education Foundation reimagined the annual themed fundraiser and hosted a spectacular socially distanced outdoor/indoor event, following CDC guidelines and adhering to local safety protocols. Each guest received a lovely custom-crafted tropical print facemask and hand sanitizer upon arrival.
Embracing the theme, guests donned their best resort wear and bright floral prints while sipping drinks and enjoying balmy breezes against a stunning oceanfront backdrop. During the open-air sunset reception, a highlight was the thunder of drums and the breathtaking “fire knife” performance by Drums of Polynesian. Lured by the “call of the conch,” guests enjoyed tropical themed photo stations throughout the spacious ballroom which included larger than life Tiki statues and surfboards, all to raise awareness of and funds for the only 501(c)3 organization solely dedicated to helping students and teachers in Broward County Public Schools. After a sumptuous dinner and dessert, Drums of Polynesia once again invoked far-away lands with a series of beautiful, spirited and interactive Polynesian dances that proved guests’ dancing prowess.
“After more than a year apart, this was an outstanding night which allowed our guests to safely gather and celebrate the incredible achievements and accomplishments in public education in Broward County,” said Dustin Jacobs, vice president of marketing for BrightStar Credit Union and Broward Education Foundation board treasurer. He continued, “BrightStar Credit Union is a proud Broward Education Foundation legacy partner in serving students and teachers in Broward Schools for 37 years.”
Proceeds benefit Broward Education Foundation’s transformational programs and initiatives for students and teachers in Broward County Public Schools. Core focus areas include innovative teaching grants for curriculum development to advance Pre K-12 achievement; school supplies for Title I students and teachers; scholarships for qualified high school seniors, and support of district initiatives the Debate, Chess, TurnAround Arts and more. Each year, the Foundation contributes more than $3 million to Broward County schools, serving as the catalyst for educational excellence.
“Our team went above and beyond this year to ensure our guests were able to experience some normalcy and enjoy a fun, socially distanced escape after an extremely challenging year,” said Shea Ciriago, CEO of Broward Education Foundation. “A heartfelt ‘mahalo’ to our loyal corporate partners, business leaders and community donors who continue to support the vital role that we play in shaping the future of our students.”
Escape to Tropical Paradise was made possible through the generous support of Title Partner BrightStar Credit Union, Heart of Broward award winner Office Depot, Big Kahuna Auction Partner Broward Teachers Union, Gallagher Insurance, Humana, Johns Eastern Claim Adjusters, Memorial Healthcare System, Nova Southeastern University, Wells Fargo and UKG. Additional partners include Ballard Partners, Broward County Public Schools Department of Applied Learning, Crain Atlantis Architects & Engineers, Funky Buddha Brewery, Hazel Health, Kelly Kronenberg, PNC Bank, Rick Case Automotive, S1 Medical, Total Wine & More and Dr. Valerie Smith-Wanza.