GroovyGala SponsorsFor the past seventeen years, the United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties has held an annual Dinner & Silent Auction that has grown to become the single largest fundraiser for the local United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties and its 40 partner agencies. This year’s event was held on January 30, 2016 at the Hilton at Sandestin and the sponsoring partner of 60’s Groovy Gala. The evening proved to be “Groovy Baby” with all the psychedelic décor and the guest all decked out in their funky 60’s outfits.  Oh… what memories. The evening event provided dinner, silent auction, and dancing to the local band, Strange Brew.  Everyone had to get up and dance as the band was playing all those 60’s greatest hits. The Emcee, our own Sal Nodjomian with Matrix Design Group and Board Member for the United Way, welcomed everyone and helped remind us the importance of the big event.

It was a great time of celebration as Alan Wood of CCB Community Bank, came forward on behalf of Betty Brassell, of First City Bank and the 2015 Campaign Chair, to announce the result of the campaign. The generosity of the community and all our volunteers raised $1,311,359.39, a 7% increase from the 2014 campaign.

 Every year at the event, a dance competition is held with local community leaders and dancers from the Fort Walton Beach Fred Astaire Dance Studios. The Community Dancer’s task was to raise the most dollars prior to the 60’s Groovy Gala and during the night of the event. The community dancer that raises the most dollars wins the dance competition. Congratulations to this year’s winner: Katie Sharon, with BBVA Compass, and United Way Board Member. Katie’s professional dance partner, Aaron Stowell, with Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Fort Walton Beach danced to “Magic Carpet Ride”.  Our deepest appreciation to all our wonderful dancers: Steve Wolfrom VP of Member Services for CHELCO,  Marnie Tate, Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual and also an author of, “A Passion for Life”. Dr. Sarah Leatherman, Physician/Owner of HealthSource in Fort Walton Beach and Dr. Brodie Bowman, Brodie Bowman Orthodontics. These amazing dancers worked tirelessly the past few months to support the United Way. Dancers sold corporate tables, sponsorships, and raised cash donations that totaled over $19,000, the most ever raised in the dance competition.  The event grossed over $46,000.

The United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties’ mission is to provide leadership and resources to those in need. With the support of the community, the United Way continues to provide funding for 40 local partnering agencies. The dollars stay local to focus on Education/Children; Financial Stability/Disaster Readiness; Health/Wellness. United Way… it’s about real people, with real needs, providing real solutions.

GroovyGala Celebrity Dancers

2016 Celebrity Dancers with their Fred Astaire’s Professional Partners (left to right): Pro dancer Vincent McIain and celebrity Dr. Sarah Leatherman, physician/owner of HealthSource Ft Walton Beach South; pro dancer Shelly Eckert and celebrity Steve Wolfram, VP of Member Services for CHELCO; 2016 winner celebrity Katie Sharon, BBVA Compass Bank and United Way Board member, and her pro partner Aaron Stowell; celebrity Marnie Tate, Financial Advisor for Northwestern Mutual and auther of “A Passion for Life”, with pro dancer Chris Eckert; and pro dancer Kimalee Piedad and celebrity Dr. Brodie Bowman, Brodie Bowman Orthodontics.