UANYC for Tuscaloosa Fundraiser Raises Emotions, Support for Tornado Victims

Alabama alumni from the tri-state area united to raise over $18,000 to support the Tuscaloosa-area tornado victims.


May 10, 2011

Photo Gallery | Silent Auction Items Recap

NEW YORK -- It was an emotional night for an emotional cause.

Approximately 200 people packed The Hill on May 10 for the Greater New York Chapter's UANYC for Tuscaloosa Fundraiser in support of the areas ravished by the devastating tornadoes that touched down in Alabama and throughout the South less than a month prior.

The Hill may be more than 1,000 miles from the Capstone but, on this evening in midtown Manhattan, there was no other place filled with more of the Crimson Tide spirit as alumni, family and friends gathered to raise awareness for the disaster recovery efforts in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas.

By night's end, the event totaled over $18,000 to benefit the University of Alabama's Acts of Kindness Fund, the West Alabama American Red Cross and future recovery initiatives.

"I am overwhelmed with and appreciative of the responses the chapter received for our fundraising event," said UANYC President Christopher Hollinger ('92). "On behalf of the chapter, I cannot express enough gratitude to the individuals and companies that stepped up to support our efforts to play a vital role in the rebuilding of Tuscaloosa."  

Musical selections by alumni of the University's Department of Theatre and Dance began the festivities. Accompanied by Taylor Bridges ('08), Dianna Duffy ('10) performed "I Will Be There For You" by Jessica Andrews, Jacqueline Wheeler ('09) and Katie Burton performed ('10), "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin, Miss University of Alabama 2005 Allison Wilkes ('08) performed "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Sheniqua Trotman ('09) and Shannon Dionne ('10) performed "Yesterday" by Mary Mary. The group capped the musical segment with a stirring rendition of the Alabama alma mater.

That melodic opening led way to the event's main attraction, the silent auction, staged in The Hill's second-floor seating area. The auction featured 20 items ranging from autographed Alabama memorabilia and prints to New York Jets and New York Yankees tickets to a game day experience with CBS Sports sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Interest in the auction items was robust from the moment the pre-bidding opened online two days prior to the event until the in-person bidding closed that night.  

Along with the auction, the chapter conducted a raffle, which included gift certificates from The Ainsworth and The Hill, Alabama football coffee table book and autographed hockey puck from Tyler Kennedy of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and had a collection box on hand to collect clothing and supplies for families in the affected areas. The chapter partnered with Amanda Mitchell at Southern Hospitality Marketing & PR to have the supplies delivered to the Tuscaloosa area following the fundraiser.

Marty Lyons, captain of Alabama's 1978 National Championship team and a member of the Jets' famed New York Sack Exchange, kicked off the silent auction with a live auction of one of his throwback jerseys. Lyons attended the chapter's fundraiser because, like most alums, he still has a soft spot for Tuscaloosa and the memories he has from his playing days under Paul "Bear" Bryant.

"My thoughts and prayers are with all the people from the great state of Alabama after being hit by the recent tornado, in particular the people of Tuscaloosa," said Lyons. "It was my pleasure to be a part of the Alabama family here in New York."

The Alabama family, on this night, was an extended one as alumni from other Southeastern Conference schools were also on hand as well as show of support. It was, however, the bond of the Bama Nation that carried the event's essence all night.

"This fundraiser not only contributed to the recovery efforts in my hometown of Tuscaloosa, but also helped to strengthen our chapter as a whole," said Reese Goode ('06), UANYC Career Development Chair, who organized the fundraiser's silent auction. "It was truly amazing to witness all of the Alabama graduates who both live and work in the New York area come together and utilize all of their greatest talents in order to assist with the healing process in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas. I am forever indebted to the volunteers of this effort for their service and support."   

Providing key contributions in the event's planning and execution along with Goode and Hollinger were University President's Cabinet Member and UANYC Past President Heath Terry ('96), UANYC Treasurer Rigo Flores ('09), University Regional Recruiter for New York and Northern New Jersey Elise Zieman ('08), UANYC Membership Chair Rebecca Mummert ('03) and UANYC Past President Huston Stewart ('00).

From those who attended event to those who put in time and effort to pull it off, it was an emotional night that concluded as a successful one in the chapter's goal to extending aid to those in the affected areas. Reflecting on the night's festivities, Lyons put the night and the coming days of recovery and rebuilding in perspective.

"Keep the faith and allow God to bring us all a brighter tomorrow. God bless and ROLL TIDE!"