Civic Center Transformed for TMH’s Golden Gala
By Keytron Hill
The Donald L. Tucker Civic Center was transformed into what seemed to be Hollywood as Tallahasseans welcomed Oscar and Grammy winning entertainer John Legend for Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Foundation’s 32nd Annual Golden Gala.
For the past 32 years, the civic center has been the home for the Gala, introducing many stars to Tallahassee such as Maroon 5, Keith Urban, and Lady Antebellum.
“We choose the theme because of our star, John Legend. We decided on a legendary performance, so all the videos that are around are depicting legendary performers,” said Paula Fortunas, president and CEO of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Foundation.
The Supremes, Elvis and The Beatles were made life size throughout the walls of the venue as they sang their greatest hits. The arena was draped in gold and white from the cocktail room down to the golden gates that marked the entrance to the dinning hall, which was labeled with two gold G’s for Golden Gala.
“Transforming a sports arena into an elegant dinning experience was our challenge but we have an arm of volunteers who helped us do it,” said Fortunas.
Despite the many attendees who were excited about John Legend, Jeff Silvaroli was one attendee who looked forward to just attending the gala as a third-time attendee and as a employee of Capet Studio, a partner company of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH).
“I had to look him (John Legend) up and find out some of his songs. As I get older, I get stuck in some of the decades so it’s always good to hear new artist. He reminds me of Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass so I knew I’d like him,” said Silvaroli.
The funds that are earned through the gala go directly to TMH and the patients it serves.
Fortunas described the Gala as “a tradition within the community,” and “the premiere charitable and social event around the big bend.”
Florida State University’s Athletic Director Stan Wilcox admitted to feeling thrilled to finally attend the tradition with his wife who has been begging Wilcox to see John Legend in concert.
“My wife has been getting on me about seeing John Legend so I think I can check that box off my list,” Wilcox added, “This is a great event and a great cause to give back to the community, so many people will benefit from the proceeds raised here tonight. You can’t do enough for health care and things that we need to do for all of our Tallahasseeans who need great services.”
The Foundation has been serving Tallahassee since 1976. The not-for-profit organization is licensed by the state of Florida as a charitable organization and is led by leaders in the community who are responsible for getting the community interested in the importance of health through educational and research projects, distributing funds to TMH, and governing the foundations assets.
CEO of Williams Communications Inc., Ken Williams, has seen the foundation’s many leaders and has watched TMH grow into the hospital the Tallahassee community know it as today.
After attending 31 gala’s, Williams looked forward to the company and seeing his fellow colleagues who he says he hadn’t seen since the previous year.
“I’ve been a solid believer and supporter in TMH. Our company is now going on 57 years old and we have supported TMH during that whole time even before the Gala was even thought about because of what they do to and for the community,” said Williams.