Nearly 300 guests, including well-known athletes from Sarasota’s tennis community, attended the Inaugural Tennis Ball, A Grand Slam Event, on Thursday, April 12, at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The event’s committee, led by co-chairs Barbara Lancer and Christina Bonilla, added this inaugural celebration to the current slate of activities associated with the 2018 Joey Gratton Championship, which is scheduled to take place September 28-30 at Longboat Key Club Tennis Gardens, as a way to further honor the legacy of the late Joey Gratton, who was an exceptional athlete from Sarasota, while raising additional funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. By the end of the event, $200,000 was raised to support the nonprofit’s award-winning programs that help thousands of youth create plans for success after high school graduation.
“Our organization is able to make such a significant impact on the lives of the children and teens we serve thanks to the generosity of community leaders like Barbara Lancer, the dedication of the Joey Gratton Championship committee and the sponsors whose contributions ensure a successful event,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “The proceeds will give youth access to programs that help them succeed in school, become leaders, live healthy lifestyles and graduate with a plan for to obtain a career or post-secondary education.”
The event kicked off at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour featuring Michael’s on the Bay curated international food stations, a photobooth, a silent auction and a student quartet from Pine View School.
Ray Collins, co-anchor of “Good Morning Suncoast” for ABC 7, welcomed guests to take their seats at 7 p.m. and proceeded to recognize the event’s committee including co-chairs Barbara and Christina Bonilla and members Gina Arias, Tom Cail, Kelly Dancer, Tanya Ferris, Blake Gratton, Brock Gratton, Priscilla Gratton, Beth Green, Dustin Keith, Jon Lee, Amy Lyons, Joanna Roberti, Lisa Rott, Kathy Rosenberg, Scott Schuhrieman, Tina VonKessel and John Woods.
Sponsors who made the event possible were also recognized, including, but not limited to, Grand Slam Sponsors Juice Plus with Jeffrey and Joanna Roberti and Paulo and Priscilla Teixeira; Schofield & Spencer, P.A., Attorneys at Law with Dan McClure and the Lancer Family Foundation, as well as, Champion Sponsors Lee Wetherington Homes; Rock Bottom Bottles; Mr. and Mrs. Bobby and Christina Bonilla; Xplode Marketing; Syprett, Meshad, Resnick, Lieb, Dumbaugh, Jones, Krotec & Westheimer; The Tennis Gardens at Longboat Key Club; Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation and Tarr Charitable Family Foundation. For a full listing of sponsors, please visit www.joeygrattonchampionship.com.
Before taking a break for dinner, guests witnessed an exclusive ping pong exhibition between tennis professionals Jimmy Arias and Petr Korda. After dinner, Sights and Sounds’ Brent Greeno led the live auction including rare items such as a stay at an Italian Villa in Menaggio, Lake Como, as well as, an experience at the U.S. Open. When the final item sold, Boys & Girls Clubs Alumnus Jeffrey Roberti took the stage and shared how his Club experience helped put him on a path to success.
“Having the Boys & Girls Club as a second home and as a safe place to grow after school was priceless when I think back,” he said.
To close the event, Leonela T., a junior at Riverview High School, told the guests how the programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County has helped her discover her passion for volunteering, and gain confidence through leadership training and internships.
“I am so fortunate for my Club experiences that have helped shape my character,” she said. “Thanks to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County and wonderful supporters like you all, children and teens just like me have a greater chance at achieving our full potential.”
Click here to learn more about our programs that the proceeds from The Tennis Ball, A Grand Slam Event, will support.
ABOUT THE JOEY GRATTON TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP:
The Joey Gratton Tennis Championship honors the late Joey Gratton who was an exceptional athlete, a champion motocross and powerboat racer and a nationally-ranked tennis player. He had an incredible passion for supporting and promoting youth in sports. The Joey Gratton Foundation was established to celebrate Joey Gratton’s life by helping children actively participate in an organized sport that values personal integrity, team and leadership skills, in a fun and healthy learning environment. The Joey Gratton Foundation focuses on creating opportunity for those who may not have the chance, including the beneficiaries of the Joey Gratton Tennis Championship – more than 7,000 children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. Since 1970, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County has provided thousands of local youth who need access to high-quality programs the most with opportunities to enhance their academics, develop character and leadership skills and adopt a healthy lifestyle. The Joey Gratton Tennis Championship helps open the door for Boys & Girls Club members to achieve their full potential and chart their pathways toward a great future. To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, visit www.bgcsarasota.com or call 941-366-3911.