2023 Ice Ball Gala Recap

It was the coolest, hottest time in Austin, as a crowd of over 700 friends and supporters gathered for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas’ 19th Annual Ice Ball Gala held on Saturday, August 26 at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin. Extravagant attire, fun activities, exciting trips and auction packages, and generous hearts created an evening to remember as attendees raised more than $1.1 million to support kids in our community.

The night’s fundraising total included the announcement of a $250,000 gift to launch an agency endowment named in honor of longtime BBBS supporters Connie and Bill Nelson.

“What an amazing evening!” said Albert Swantner, Chair, BBBS Board of Directors. “Ice Ball is one of the premier galas in the Austin community. Thanks to the amazing generosity of our donors, even more children will receive mentoring relationships that can change their lives for the better, forever.”

A highlight of the evening was the introduction of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas’ new CEO, Kedrick Jeffries. Coming to Big Brothers Big Sisters from The Boys and Girls Clubs of Austin, Jeffries was attending his first Ice Ball event. “I have a heart for serving the youth and families of Central Texas,” said Jeffries. “I am serious about this mission, and I can’t wait to get started!”

When they arrived, attendees had the opportunity to pose for photos in front of the gala’s signature ice sculpture, as well as a 360 photobooth where they donned silly hats, glasses, and accessories. Attendees also enjoyed signature cocktails, networking with friends, and the chance to win fine jewelry provided by David Yurman as part of a Buried Treasure game.

A large number of silent and super silent auction items were also available for guests to bid on, including a guitar signed by Willie Nelson, a Rose Bowl Parade experience, a private concert by Mela Sarajane Dailey, and an Austin FC package featuring game tickets, a pre-game stadium tour, and a signed soccer ball.

Artists from Vogue Vignette were also on hand to sketch gala attendees in their evening attire, creating memorable, one-of-a-kind fashion art keepsakes.

For many though, the pre-dinner highlight was visiting with old friends and meeting new ones, which created a perfect gala atmosphere.

An acapella group from The University of Texas, The Ransom Notes, signaled the beginning of the evening’s program as they led guests into the ballroom for dinner. KVUE anchor, Quita Culpepper served as the emcee for the evening welcoming guests and introducing current BBBS Board Chair, Albert Swantner and Board Chair-Elect, Shellie Hayes-McMahon who reported on the state of the agency and introduced Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, new CEO, Kedrick Jeffries.

Following Jeffries’ remarks, Ice Ball Chairs Pamela and William Hurley welcomed gala guests, recognized this year’s Ice Ball Host Committee for their hard work, and invited Connie and Bill Nelson to the stage to present this year’s Ice VII award. The Ice VII award is presented to individuals who have had a significant impact on both the agency and the Ice Ball Gala. Past awardees Connie and Bill Nelson presented this prestigious award to long-time supporters Lori and Mark Ramseur.

As guests continued to enjoy dinner, auctioneer David Ackel inspired the crowd to bid on a number of exceptional live auction packages and trips including an Iceland travel experience; a trip to explore James Bond’s Secret Hideaways in Switzerland, Italy and France; a getaway to Tuscany for 8 people; tickets for a suite at the Madonna concert at the Moody Center; and a Game of Thrones Adventure to Spain and Croatia, to name just a few.

The most powerful portion of the evening was the Mission Moment, which featured the compelling story of Little Sister Kiyah’s relationship with her Big Sister, Alli. Matched for 7 years, Kiyah explained how she had assumed a number of adult responsibilities involved in caring for her family as her mom dealt with serious health issues, and how her Big Sister Alli provided consistent support along the way. “I didn’t realize how just talking with someone (my Big) could change things,” said Kiyah. Her story truly reflected the purpose of the entire evening.

After an amazing night of impact, the celebration continued into the night as guests enjoyed s’mores, face painting, socializing, dancing, and music provided by the Love & Happiness Band.

It was another amazing Ice Ball gala whose impact will be felt by children and families in our community for years to come.

Special thanks to our Ice Ball Chairs Pamela & William Hurley, this year’s Ice Ball Host Committee, and to our top sponsors: Lori and Mark Ramseur; Urbanspace Real Estate + Interiors; RSM; Wells Fargo; Austin INFINITI; Austin Subaru; Jenn and Sam Bassett; Cayetano Development; Pamela and William Hurley; Lovejoy Gourmet Granola/Connie and Bill Nelson; Love, Tito’s; and Sarah and Albert Swantner

See photo Album 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigmentoring/albums/72177720310829607

See photo Album 2: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigmentoring/albums/72177720311012508

See our 2023 Ice Ball Match Story: Alli & Kiyah: https://youtu.be/VIoxrcnkThk?si=TYN7WBS2uUIpjwIS


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