Two hundred supporters of the Boys & Girls Club of Western PA (BGCWPA) set sail on the The Gateway Clipper on March 23 for their “Piggest Fundraiser” of the year, The Great Futures Gala.  On board was one special VIP guest – miniature pig Nola and her parents, Chris & Lauren Miladinovich.  Nola has committed to raising more than one million dollars for the BGCWPA to ensure every kid has a safe place to learn and grow when school is out.

“Our programs and services in the community are a safety net for the challenges faced by young people,” said Mike Hepler, President & CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Western PA. “We have a duty and responsibility to insure that we are there for the children as they transition to adulthood.  They not only need a place to learn and grow, they deserve it.  The guests and sponsors of our Great Futures Gala are letting the children know that we truly care”.

The event is a culmination of months of fundraising for the BGCWPA Kiss A Pig Competition.  Eleven local community leaders were part of a friendly competition to fill their “Piggy Banks” to support local clubs. The top three fundraisers of the BGCWPA Kiss A Pig Competition were announced during the cruise of the Three Rivers and had the distinct honor of locking lips with Nola.

The crown went to top fundraiser Jim Barry, Executive Vice President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania and Director of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club who raised $17, 305.00 for the local clubs.  “Fun” Tim Faller of TJS Insurance who fundraised $13,955 and Chris Miladinovich of ProsHire (Nola’s dad) who raised $13,020 also enjoyed kisses from BGCWPA VIP Nola.  The 2016 Kiss a Pig Candidates in total all generated an amazing $64,040.00 for local children!

This is the second year for the event which also nominates an Outstanding Youth of the Year from each of their eight club locations within our community.  All youth were chosen for their leadership qualities, service to the community, exceptional morals, values and achievements at their local Clubs.

Honorees included: Hunter Smutney of the Carnegie Club, Robyn Russell of the Estelle S. Campbell Club, Came’ron Mosley of the Duquesne – West Mifflin Club, Katie Barry of the LaRosa Club, Renee Killmeyer of the Northern Area Club, Mia Vento of the Shadyside Club, Jacob Scott of the Sto-Ken-Rox  Club & Vanessa Todd of the Wilkinsburg Club.

Don Michel, VP of the Board of Directors, had the honor of announcing the Western Pennsylvania Youth of the Year and E.J. Ferris presented the Edward J. Ferris, Sr. Memorial Award to Mia Vento of the Shadyside Boys & Girls Club.  Also recognized was Ionie Banner as the 2016 Dapper Dan Athlete of the Year and Zaire Teagle from the Carnegie Club as the 2016 Joe Gordon Youth Volunteer of the Year.

Attendees enjoyed Boys & Girls Club Alumni and vocal powerhouse Vanessa Campagna during their VIP hour.  The evening festivities also included Singer/Songwriter Slim Forsythe, dinner and dancing to DJ Charles from First Class Entertainment.  Painting with a Twist Artist, Leah Keilman was also on hand to create a one of a kind Pittsburgh Masterpiece to be auctioned off during the Three Rivers Cruise.

The evening raised funds to help provide more than 7,000 children a year in Allegheny County a great future.

To see how many Great Futures have started with local Boys & Girls Clubs click here. Challenge yourself to change a local child’s future by donating today!