ALSO Youth steps out in Hollywood for Gala

By : Krista DiTucci
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For a night filled with red carpet finesse, Hollywood movie stars, and dancing with friends, join ALSO Youth in celebrating the “Stepping Out in Hollywood” gala.

The event will take place on April 2 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. on the eighth floor of Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota.

Tony Boothby, ALSO Youth board member and gala committee chair, says the fundraiser was competing with many other galas in the past when it was held in November. This year, the board decided to merge ALSO’s two largest fundraisers – the gala and the annual brunch – into one event in April, which Boothby says has generated more response.

“We put forth a lot of effort into both of these events,” ALSO Youth program coordinator Molly Swift says. “It makes sense to have one event that’s bigger and badder than ever before.”

This will also be the first year that the gala is held at Lido Beach Resort, allowing guests to sip cocktails while overlooking the beach and watching the sunset.

Guests will begin the evening by having their picture taken on the red carpet as they enter the resort. Once they arrive at the eighth floor, guests will be surrounded by classic Hollywood movie star cutouts and will have photo opportunities with celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, and Audrey Hepburn.

“I’m excited to take selfies with all these movie stars!” Boothby says, laughing. “And I’m really excited about looking down at the beach – the eighth floor is all glass.”

While guests are meeting Hollywood stars, they can also enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a three-course dinner and raffles.

Arthur Boyce, gala committee member and raffle co-chair, says raffle prizes are valued from $50 to $500 and will include prizes such as coffee baskets, alcohol baskets, a television, dining cards, gym memberships, dinner and theater ticket packages, champagne and chocolates, and gift baskets for pets.

Next, guests will enjoy an awards ceremony to celebrate two role models within the ALSO community. Sam Armbruster will be honored as “Person of the Year” due to their many hours and projects dedicated to ALSO. Sheldon McCloud will be honored as “Youth of the Year.”

“Sheldon has shown up to every single event ALSO ever had, whether he was asked to or not,” Boothby says. “He is always volunteering and acting as an ambassador to new youth, and he is just so proactive in supporting ALSO.”

Following the awards ceremony, guests can enjoy the comedy of Jennie McNulty and Joey D provides DJ entertainment for the night.

The gala has secured 18 sponsors so far. Platinum sponsors – those who have donated more than $3000 – include Community AIDS Network (CAN), Boothby and his partner Christopher Best, and Mark Steinwachs and partner Jarred Wilson.

“I’m looking forward to having this event so the kids can get the benefit of the community’s generosity,” Boyce says. “We can have all the fun we want, but the bottom line is we want them to get the benefits.”

To date, ALSO has sold over 100 seats, more than half of what they had sold by this point in previous years. This year also includes an option on the RSVP to sponsor a youth ticket. Swift says youth ticket sponsorships have gotten a large response.

“It’s going to be great to have the youth present for the community to see them, and also for the parents to see the community that supports them,” Swift says. “I’m looking forward to seeing the youth and their families interact with donors and stakeholders.”

ALSO Youth is a nonprofit in Sarasota dedicated to providing Advocacy, Leadership, Support, and Outreach (ALSO) to LGBTQIA youth and allies through peer support, education, advocacy, and referrals.

Proceeds from the night will go toward raising money for ALSO programs and continued funding for a third employee at the new satellite location in Venice. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased at ALSOYouth.org.

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