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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County to host Dream BIG Gala July 26

Big Brother Jerome Flowers and Little Brother Malaki. (Photo: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County’s mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring that empowers children to reach their full potential and their upcoming Dream BIG Gala on Friday, July 26th at Madison Marriott West will be a chance to show the community the impact they are making locally.

“This year, we’re going to be doing an Alice in Wonderland whimsical-type experience. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. It’s our typical event where we are talking about the need for mentors and will be highlighting several stories of folks in the program past, present and future,” Bethany Ordaz, the development director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, tells Madison365.  

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County’s Dream BIG Gala is their biggest and most important fundraiser of the year.

“We typically have somewhere around 50 to 60 matches that attend the Gala so people can directly interact with the Littles in the program as well as the Bigs in the program,” Ordaz says. “We often seat them at tables with the sponsors, so it’s nice for a company that invests in our organization to get a chance to have a one-on-one conversation with them and just see what they like to do together.

“Obviously, a lot of the matches have been together for a long time so they have plenty to share,” she adds. “It’s nice for people to see the kids in the program and the Bigs in the program. They are all dressed up and enjoying the evening.”

The event will include a cocktail reception, raffles, entertainment, a dinner program, and live and silent auctions. Brandon Taylor, anchorperson from WKOW-TV in Madison, will be the host of the event.

“He’s actually in the process of becoming a Big Brother, so we’re excited for him to share his personal experience going through the process,” Ordaz says. 

Tracy Anderson, the community outreach and volunteer manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, tells Madison365 the annual event is a time to be with other community partners and to celebrate the success of the program but also to fundraise to support all the great things the non-profit does.

Tracy Anderson, the community outreach and volunteer manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County

“Our program is always entirely free for the kids and families we serve, so raising the money and doing the showcase of the program is just always so important so that we can continue to serve the kids and serve them at no cost,” Anderson says.  

“We feel like it’s really important for people to understand why we’re doing these different fundraising events, and where the money goes,” she adds. “It’s the fundraising that we do that helps make sure the background checks get covered and the costs of facilitating a match get covered. So the fundraising events are very important for us.”

The Big Dream Gala will also be a chance to highlight successful programs of the non-profit organization including BBBS of Dane County’s School Friends Program.

“With COVID, all of our programs in the schools were shut down. We restarted this year at a couple of different sites and we are expanding next year to some new schools,” Ordaz says. “And so we will have a need for more folks to step up and work with us in the school setting and then, of course, we always have a large waitlist of kids waiting in need for mentors for our standard community program, as well.”

Bethany OrdazBethany Ordaz, Development Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County.

While children across Dane County are waiting to be matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters, boys, in particular, are ready and waiting to be matched with Big Brothers right now. Disproportionately, the children BBBS of Dane County serve and those waiting to be matched are African-American and Latino boys. 

BBBS of Dane County did a successful drive to recruit mentors earlier this year to put a little dent in that waiting list but it is always an ongoing process with more young people joining the program.

“There’s always more kids coming in the door,” Ordaz says. “So we’ve got to keep those volunteers coming in just as quickly. We would really love to have men and people of color sign up, in particular. Those are the demographics that we lack the most.” 

“We made a lot of connections with that drive at the beginning of the year and we really got our brand out there,” Anderson adds. “It was a great way to start the year. The waitlist changes all the time. But through the drive we did at the beginning of the year, we were able to get out there to educate people. We are always in need of new mentors because kids continue to come into the program so the demand goes up as well.”  

True Stage will be the presenting sponsor for this year’s Dream Big Gala.

“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year. So it will be, of course, cocktail attire, and we’re working on a signature cocktail for the event, which we’re excited about, too,” Anderson says. “So it’s gonna be a lot of fun. It’s something we’re really looking forward to.

“We have sponsorship levels that are still available for the Dream Big Gala and if people want to make a donation in lieu of attending, they can do that on the website as well. So we want to encourage all those options,” Anderson adds.

For more information about or tickets to the annual Dream BIG Gala, click here.