Over $130,000 raised at 13th Annual Junior Achievement’s WATCH A RISING STAR Gala


WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast welcomed 350 friends and supporters at the 13th annual Junior Achievement’s WATCH A RISING STAR Gala. The family friendly event at the Kravis Center raised more than $130,000 for Junior Achievement, which empowers young people to own their economic success and reaches over 18,000 students in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Hendry Counties. Presented by The Law Offices of Greenstein & Associates, the Mardi Grasthemed celebration complete with fancy masks and party beads honored the Kretzer Piano Music Foundation (KPMF), which was founded by Kathi Kretzer Sayler, one of the originators of this popular fundraising event. KPMF sponsors the Kretzer Kids, a group of talented music students who take turns entertaining on weekends at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The highlight of the evening was the entertaining and inspiring Vocal Competition between five young musical finalists vying for $10,000 in scholarship money. The esteemed judges that evening were jazz singer Donna Singer, Broadway actress Jodie Langel and Nashville recording artist Monique McCall. The winner of this year’s vocal competition was Virginia Mims, a student at Dreyfoos School of the Arts and the daughter of retired Metropolitan Opera star Marilyn Mims and Lloyd Mims, the Dean of Music and Fine Arts at Palm Beach Atlantic University. The other singing competitors in the order they finished were Sydney Carbo of Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, Katie Rodgers of The Pine School in Palm City, Christina Layton of The King’s Academy, and Drew Tanabe, also from Dreyfoos School of the Arts. For the first time, all five finalists were Junior Achievement alumni. Longtime local TV personality Bob Nichols served as auctioneer at the event, generating bids on a number of desirable items, including a one week Costa Rica Getaway, an Ireland vacation to Kinsale of Cork County, a two night New Orleans Getaway, a South African Photo trip for two, a framed signed picture by Russell Wilson, and a Three Corners of Florida Golf trip. One particularly exciting part of the auction was the bidding for JA BizTown™. In fact, JA BizTown™ kiosks were present for the attendees to view, including the Sports Experience where several JA Alum students demonstrated how it worked. David Nicholson of The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation bid $25,000 with Rick Stone of the Richard & Leslie Stone Family Fund generously matching his bid. Members of the JA Company Program at Palm Beach Gardens High School were onsite selling decorative key chains. Claudia Kirk Barto, President of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast, warmly welcomed all attendees and gave a special salute to Presenting Sponsor Blanca Greenstein and her team from The Law Offices of Greenstein & Associates. “Junior Achievement empowers young people to own their economic success,” said Event Chair Ken Cunningham. “So all proceeds from this great will go to help educate almost 20,000 students throughout Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Hendry counties.” Visit www.juniorachievement.com for more information