(L-r) Deanne Kane, Jenny Meicher Santeck and Leigh Mills at last year's Boys and Girls Club Hearts for Helping event

Every year, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County hosts its Hearts for Helping Wine & Cheese Tasting Event. This Friday, Feb. 16, at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club in downtown Madison, will be the 9th annual event – a night full of food, drink, music, entertainment, and networking.

What’s is Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson’s favorite part of the event?

“My favorite part of the dancing at the end,” Johnson laughs. “I actually don’t really enjoy the event until we have the money raised. I’m in complete fundraising mode and there is a huge burden lifted once we go through the auction items and we can dance and have fun.”

Anthony Hudson and Gisele Sutherland, both from BMO Harris, will serve as the honorary chairs for the 2018 Hearts for Helping event. Johnson says that the BGCDC’s goal is to transform the lives of young people and that the Hearts for Helping event will help them get closer to their goal of successfully graduating 90 percent of their BGCDC high school students by 2021. At the event, Johnson adds, the community will hear from a few of the teens that are on that road to success.

“We want to raise $220,000 to help kids go to summer camp. Badger [Basketball] Coach Greg Gard is going to raffle off a tailgate party at his house. We’re going to have casino tables there. It’s going to be a phenomenal event,” Johnson says.

(L-r) Sagashus Levingston, Wanda Smith, and Queen Turner at a previous Hearts for Helping event.

Summit Credit Union will be providing a $5,000 scholarship to one of the Boys and Girls Club kids. “We’re going to announce the Youth of the Year winner that night and we’re going to have a big announcement with CUNA Mutual who will share a six-figure gift to the Boys and Girls Club,” Johnson says.

Kinfolk, one of Madison’s favorite bands, who infuse hip-hop, jazz, gospel and R&B into their sound, will be performing at the event.

“There’s going to be a lot of dancing and fun. We want people to really come and enjoy themselves,” Johnson says. “It’s gone over extremely well the last year and the year before so we decided to bring it back again.”

BGCDC CEO Michael Johnson (in back) with (l-r) Andre Johnson, Maria Soliz Johnson, and Corinda Rainey-Moore at last year’s Hearts for Helping event.

All proceeds will go toward the 2018 Boys & Girls Club academic and recreational programs, which help encourage young people to realize their full potential in a fun, educational setting.

The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County was in the news recently holding a press conference to see if Walmart could donate the Sam’s Club building on Madison’s west side so they could repurpose the building into a regional youth sports center. The Walmart Executive Vice President contacted Johnson and said they would consider an offer for the building but couldn’t donate it outright.

“They reached out to us and said that while they couldn’t give us the building that they would consider an offer so we have a donor that was willing to support that offer. We made that offer on Friday,” Johnson says. “We’re waiting to hear back. We always knew it was a long shot, but my favorite quote is, ‘Ask not and receive not.’”

Johnson says that the correspondence went all the way up to the executive vice president. “I got the cell phone and e-mail address to the Walmart CEO so we’ll wait and see how it plays out,” Johnson says.

Johnson adds that he will let us know how they respond, but in the meantime, he has plenty on his plate with the 9th annual Hearts for Helping event that will showcase some of the finest wines, tastiest cheeses, and best live music Madison has to offer. So far about 500 guests are registered.

All of the proceeds from this year’s Hearts for Helping event will help support Boys & Girls Club’s summer programming – from important trips, club outings, camps and more.

“The whole goal is to raise money for kids who can’t afford to participate in summer camp,” Johnson says. “We want to make sure that Dane County kids stay on track this summer and hit the school year in stride.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County will host a Hearts for Helping Wine & Cheese Tasting Event Friday, Feb. 16, 5:30-11 p.m. at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, 1 W Dayton St. The VIP event will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m., while the main event goes from 6:30 to 11 p.m.