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Inspire Greatness Gala Celebration set for nov. 15
SOKY's Most stylish night returns to the Louisville downtown Marriott

Karen Lawrence (mother of Jennifer Lawrence) and athlete Andy Strunk hit the "gold carpet" before the Gala. The pair helped introduce a video from Jennifer Lawrence before the program.

The most stylish night on the Special Olympics Kentucky calendar -- the annual Inspire Greatness Gala -- moves to the Louisville Marriott Downtown when it returns on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Guests enter via the Gold Carpet with a professional photographer there to capture the moment, before heading in for the cocktail reception that opens the evening.

The night includes a sit-down dinner, as well as live and silent auctions. There are Bourbon and other tasting stations provided by Heaven Hill Distillery. New last year, the Sweet Stroll returns to provide desserts from a number of Louisville's most delicious sweets providers.

The night closes with live music and dancing.

Dress is Gold (Black) Tie optional and we encourage everybody to wear sneakers to show solidarity with the amazing athletes the Inspire Greatness Gala supports.

For more information or to purchase your table, contact Candace at 502-695-8222 or cthompson@soky.org.

The goal for the 2013 Inspire Greatness Gala was simple -- make it the biggest, best night in the event's history. First, the date was changed, moving from the last Saturday in January slot it had held for its entire history into the first Saturday of November. Next, additions were made -- a red carpet-style entrance, a bolder program and desserts provided by local vendors. "Gold tie" dress was also encouraged as were gym shoes to support the efforts of the more than 6,600 Special Olympics athletes the Gala supports. What organizers couldn't have expected was an infusion of local star power. But star power they got.

It came in the form of a video appearance by Louisville native and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence has been friends with Special Olympics Kentucky swimmer Andy Strunk since the two were in middle school together, and Andy was profiled by media outlets when Lawrence was nominated for the Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook. While filming the third installment in the Hunger Games movie series, Lawrence taped a greeting and program introduction as well as a final ask that played before the program and the event's live auction. That wasn't her only contribution, however. Lawrence and Lionsgate -- which produces the Hunger Games series -- donated a trip to the Catching Fire premiere along with after party tickets for the live auction.

The Catching Fire premiere trip was just one of a handful of new opportunities in the live auction, which also saw a major change. For the first time this year, "Golden Ticket" opportunities were sold. For a $50 ticket, buyers could have a 1-in-150 chance of claiming their favorite live auction package before it went on the block. All 150 tickets sold out early in the night (with many sold before the Gala even began). The first "Golden Ticket" winner was longtime Inspire Greatness Gala supporter Kathy Williams. Kathy has contributed the graphic design work for invitations, tickets and programs for the Gala since its inception. Her choice was a two-night stay on a private island in Belize -- also a new auction item this year.

Special Olympics Young Athletes Sammy Gilbert and Jade Parks and their families tell their stories during the Gala program.

This year's program featured a series of videos that highlighted the expanded reach of Special Olympics, including sports, health and community building as well as emphasizing the program's power to change the lives of the people we serve. Each video was followed by a powerful personal story of how each segment of the Special Olympics program had impacted their lives.

Following the live auction, guests were invited to sample desserts at the first Inspire Greatness Gala Sweet Stroll. Desserts were provided by Mark’s Feed Store, Eddie Merlot’s, The Seelbach, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Kern’s Kitchen, Bake my Day, Heaven Hill and Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt. Guests had the opportunity to sample as many offerings as they wished.

The night closed once again with dancing to the funky sounds of Caribou.

See more Gala photos

Most importantly all of those efforts to make this the biggest best Inspire Greatness Gala in history added up to success! The Gala raised more than $100,000 for the first time in the event's history, an increase of more than $30,000 from the previous year.

Gym shoes -- worn in support of Special Olympics athletes -- were acceptable footwear with all attire at the
2013 Inspire Greatness Gala.

Our thanks to everyone who made the Inspire Greatness Gala such a great night -- Karen Lawrence and Andy and Polyanna Strunk, who introduced the Jennifer Lawrence video; all of our athletes and families who participated in this year's program; our sponsors, especially presenting sponsor Wells Fargo and Fleur de Lis who created an amazing look for the event; our outstanding committee, headed once again by Todd Loehnert; our auction item donors; auctioneer Shaun Logsdon and everyone who attended, bid and enjoyed themselves. We look forward to seeing you all again in 2014.


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