Record-breaking $338K raised at Champions For Children Gala


The Current/Sherman Group of Merrill Lynch Champions For Children Gala held on Oct. 19 at the Florida Blue Conference Center, marked a historic milestone, raising an unprecedented $338,561 in a single night in support of the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation.

This achievement underscores the unwavering commitment of the Jacksonville community to the foundation's mission of building champions in classrooms, on tennis courts and throughout communities. These funds will play a pivotal role in sustaining and expanding the foundation's impactful programs.

"We are immensely grateful for the outpouring of support from our community at the Current/Sherman Group of Merrill Lynch Champions For Children Gala," said MaliVai Washington. "The record-breaking funds raised will enable us to expand our programs and impact even more young lives, empowering them to become champions both on and off the court."

Notable moments of the evening included the crowd favorite Heads or Tails Event, which captivated attendees with its high stakes and light-hearted fun. Guests who purchased a rubber bracelet had the opportunity to play heads or tails with the last standing player winning a Swarovski tennis bracelet.

The gala featured many of the foundation’s students, scholarship recipients and testimonials on the impact the foundation has made on young people. Lonnie Marts Jr., former NFL player and Jaguar, shared his experience in the NFL and encouraging words to the students as the guest speaker.

“Seeing our Jacksonville community come together to ‘Be The Hope’ of our students’ futures was incredible,” said Terri Florio, the foundation’s executive director. “These funds provide crucial support to keep our programs running and our students in a safe place where they can excel through academics, tennis and social and emotional skills.”

The MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation is an afterschool and summer youth development program in Jacksonville’s urban core that promotes academic achievement and positive life skills.

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