300 guests filled the Midtown Loft and Terrace for a night of celebration in honor of South Bronx United’s 6th Annual Benefit on Thursday, November 10. The evening celebrated the success of South Bronx United programs in reaching 1,000 boys and girls in the community and providing students and their families with the support they need to succeed. Among the guests this year were New York City FC’s Jack Harrison, Master of Ceremony and former USA World Cup defender Jimmy Conrad, and surprise guest Spain and Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez Blanco. This year’s Annual Benefit raised $89,000, making it the most successful fundraising event to date for the organization. All proceeds will go towards the continued support of South Bronx United’s youth development programs that utilize soccer as a tool to help Bronx youth reach academic success through a range of programs such as college prep and other leadership development programs provided in and out of the classroom. A portion of support has been designated to support the organization’s legal services for immigrant youth.
The evening began with a presentation hosted by Mr. Conrad, who returned from last year’s event. Conrad interviewed Mr. Harrison, an New York City FC midfielder and MLS Rookie of the Year nominee, who shared his story about his transition from playing soccer in England to playing in the MLS. Harrison had competed against an SBU soccer team as a senior at the Berkshire School in Massachusetts. Earlier this year, he also made an appearance to welcome community children at South Bronx United’s City in the Community Program opening event in March. Executive Director Andrew So followed the interview with remarks about the the progress of his organization. “For the first time we’ve exceeded 1,000 boys and girls served providing the children as young as 3 all the way up to 19 recreational and athletic opportunities that are severely lacking in the Bronx.”
This year, South Bronx United also expanded the guidance and support it provides its students and families through the immigration process. “Our legal services staff managed 52 cases this year helping youth and families find access to immigration relief. Today, we have helped 23 youth gain permanent residency.”
Soccer legend and former Real Madrid star Raul Gonzalez Blanco made a surprise appearance assisting in the auctioning of an Real Madrid jersey that he autographed at the event. The proceeds from the auction contributed towards the evening’s goal.
This year, the Annual Benefit celebrated 2016 Youth Honoree and SBU Academy Graduate Anayeli Bolaños who’s story was shared with the audience through a video presentation and speech. Ms. Bolaños’ life changed upon becoming apart of South Bronx United. At 13 years old, she arrived to the United States from Mexico with her family in search of a better life. Naye’s story captivated the crowd as she shared with them her plans for the future starting with her newly received permanent residency status, thanks to South Bronx United’s work and her upcoming enrollment in the Borough of Manhattan Community College:
“I was getting my fingers done for immigration and I realized my future coworkers will look at me as more than just an immigrant,” she explained. “If I never found SBU, I don’t think I would have these opportunities…. After two years I plan to transfer to pursue my bachelor’s degree. I want to continue to play soccer. my goal is to eventually become an accountant and stay close to my family.”
Many sponsors came together to support South Bronx United and the event, including Two Sigma Investments, Medidata Solutions, Barclay’s Capital, PIMCO, InterFysio, Dos Toros Taqueria, BlackRock, and Growth Through Sport. Guests were treated to a buffet sponsored by Dos Toros. Generous bar sponsors including The Bronx Brewery, Tito’s Vodka, Tanteo Tequilla, and Papillon Bistro and Bar. Guests also participated in an auction and raffle which included items from institutions such as New York City FC, Relish Caterers, Adidas, New York Yankees, FC Bayern Munich Fan Club of NYC, and many more.
Every year, proceeds raised in the Annual Benefit go towards the expansion of youth programs provided to children of the Bronx on behalf of South Bronx United. The organization is now working with 1,000 boys and girls and provides them with the tools they need to succeed academically through leadership and character building programs that will help them reach academic enrichment. South Bronx United will continue to use soccer as a tool to lead their student athletes on the right path to success.
Photos from the event can be viewed on the Facebook page for the SBU Supporters Club, a fundraising arm and membership club for the organization. Learn more about the SBU Supporters Club at sbusupporters.org.
For more information on South Bronx United, and how you can help become apart of our mission, please visit www.southbronxunited.org or call (718) 404-9281.