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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles broke fundraising records at its “The Big Night Out and In” gala on Thursday night, bringing in more than $1 million for youth in underserved communities.
The hybrid event — which allowed guests who were not in person at the Fairmont Century Plaza to have a multicourse meal delivered to their home to accompany the show — honored Michael E. Kassan, founder, chairman and CEO of MediaLink, with the Walt Disney Philanthropist of the Year Award; Stacy Green, executive vp and chief people officer at Sony Pictures Entertainment with the 2021 Sherry Lansing Award; and the Los Angeles Rams with the Defender of Potential Award. Lyric Everly was also recognized as the BBBSLA Big Sister of the Year and Jon Shigematsu as the BBBSLA Big Brother of the Year. Billy Harris hosted the 350-person event, which counted The Hollywood Reporter among its media sponsors.
A+E Networks president and chairman Paul Buccieri virtually presented to Green, commending her for being an “extraordinary leader and creat[ing] an environment where people can flourish and feel safe.”
Upon accepting her award via video, Green said, “Being in the Women in Entertainment mentorship program and partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters has brought me more than I’d ever thought. My time as a mentor was a silver lining and affirmed my professional experience, giving me a renewed sense of hope. The key to my personal success is helping others fulfill their dreams.”
The Rams were honored for five years of involvement in Big Brothers Big Sisters L.A., after contributing home game tickets, a $25,000 Giving Tuesday donation, grants, and, most recently, Tyler Higbee and A’Shawn Robinson’s participation in BBBSLA’s fashion show. Carolyn Everson, president of Instacart, presented to Kassan, for his longtime involvement as a leading member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s Board of Directors. “From the beginning, it has been clear to me that the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters is so valuable because it is so personal. Personal to every Big and every Little and personal to me,” Kassan said, “Big Brothers Big Sisters puts the children first, and in great company, by pairing them with the Bigs as mentors and champions. Helping hands and believers who can liberate the potential in every child.”
Producer Kacy Andrews also was in attendance to share the unique story of her and mentee Inez Venus-Contreras’ relationship; 30 years ago the two were matched by the program, and after graduation, Venus-Contreras offered to be a surrogate for Andrews and her husband.
“How many of you think a successful path ends in your Little going to college? Inez didn’t want to go to college, she became a mom at 19. I thought I had failed her as a mentor but stayed in her life,” Andrews said. “Mentorship can evolve into friendship. She always brought out the best in me, and now I can clearly see I also brought out the best in her.”
Rebecca Sun contributed to this report.
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