Photos by Dave Silverman
On the evening of May 9th, the Stars Among Us Gala was hosted by New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC) at the Putnam Club in Gillette Stadium. The fundraising gala was held to celebrate 10 years of Fuel Up to Play 60 in New England, and to honor those whose impact on health and wellness in their schools has led to significant changes in the lives of students. They gala honorees were:
Former Physical Education/Health Teacher at Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield, MA
Former Afterschool Director for Cranston and current Initiative Director at One Cranston, CCAP
Food Service Director for the Milford School District in Milford, NH
Fuel Up to Play 60 Youth Council Member and student at Emerson College in Boston, MA
Elementary School Teacher at Fairfield Center School in Fairfield, VT
Katherine (Kathy) Leslie
Wellness Educator at Martin Kellogg Middle School in Newington, CT
Springfield Public School District
The almost $50,000 raised from the event will be used to expand the reach of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which is supported locally by the dairy farm families of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Eastern New York.
The gala included a VIP reception, dinner, a live and silent auction, award presentations, a guest speaking panel, and more.. and what an evening it was!
The evening began with our VIP reception, where guests enjoyed drinks, appetizers, and local Cabot cheese thanks to our partners and dairy farmers at Cabot Cheese Creamery.
Gala-goers had the chance to meet and chat with several special guests, including New England Patriots cheerleaders and Pat Patriot Mascot, alumni players Steve Nelson and Pete Brock, and current player Devin McCourty. Devin is a former New England Fuel Up to Play 60 Player Ambassador (2013-2017) and a forever champion of the youth wellness program.
Dinner featured table-side milk pours of plain, chocolate, and coffee milk thanks to local dairy Crescent Ridge, located in Sharon, MA (less than 20 minutes from Foxborough).
During dinner, guests heard from NEDFC’s Chief Executive Officer Jenny Karl, along with NEDFC and New England Dairy Promotion Board Chairwoman and Vermont dairy farmer, Heidi Dolloff. NEDFC’s longtime friend and ESPN reporter Mike Reiss served as the MC for the evening, and comedian Lenny Clarke helped to auction off some amazing items and experiences!
Leading up to the gala we had reached out to colleagues and students of our honorees and asked them to share a special message about that person. We put these messages together in a surprise video (below) that was played before the award ceremony. Following dinner and the video, our gala honorees were recognized and presented with their Stars Among Us awards by Mike and Devin.
Afterwards, Mike facilitated a speaking panel between Springfield Public School’s Chief Financial Officer Pat Roach, Fuel Up to Play 60 alumni student and current Youth Council member Jaclyn Galvin, and Devin.
Mike posed thoughtful questions about how each guest became involved in the program and how it’s made an impact for them personally, as well as in their schools and work environments. For Springfield, it was the opportunity to start and enhance school breakfast programs through Fuel Up to Play 60 that was significant part of their school breakfast transformation. Today, Springfield offers free breakfast to ALL students in the district. They also recently opened their new Culinary and Nutrition Center, which will allow more cooking from scratch for school meals (to serve 30,000 students daily) and provides a culinary training space for students and members of the Springfield Community.
Jaclyn spoke to how her involvement in Fuel Up to Play 60 has allowed for unforgettable experiences over the years, which includes attending multiple Fuel Up to Play 60 National Student Summits and working with younger students in the program to become leaders. Jaclyn is currently majoring in Sports Communications at Emerson College, a choice she said was shaped by her Fuel Up to Play 60 experience.
Devin explained why he thinks its important, now more than ever, for students to get outside and get active for their physical and mental health. He also spoke to how programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 are an investment in our communities, because our youth are the future.
Thank you to our generous sponsors, donors, and guests who made this evening possible and a huge success! We look forward to many more years to come of Fuel Up to Play 60 in New England!