unnamed-12 More than 800 local notables joined Kathleen Cannon, President/CEO of United Way of Broward County, Ramola Motwani, Chairwoman of the Mayors’ Gala and CEO of Merrimac Ventures and event host, Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan for an elegant evening of recognition on October 24th at the annual Mayors’ Gala. Held at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, the event brought together local influencers, elected officials, dignitaries and community members for a night of entertainment and networking to benefit MISSION UNITED, United Way of Broward County’s veteran-focused initiative. Military veterans were also recognized in a “Celebration of Service” that honored nominated servicemen and women from each city in Broward County as part of an on-stage ceremony with Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan.



“We are honored to be able to host such an amazing event with the support of so many generous friends, colleagues and community members,” said Kathleen Cannon, President/CEO of United Way of Broward County. “Every cent donated will help us make a difference in the lives of our military veterans through the many initiatives of MISSION UNITED.” MISSION UNITED is a United Way of Broward County initiative that supports US military service members, veterans and their families in Broward County by helping them re-acclimate to civilian life with key focus areas include employment, education, health, legal assistance, emergency financial aid, and housing.



The Mayors’ Gala served as an ideal opportunity for key influencers and philanthropists to come together with the common purpose of building a better community through United Way of Broward County. Attendees were welcomed with a cocktail reception and silent auction followed by a sit-down dinner, entertainment and dancing. Veteran Ben Sorensen led attendees in a prayer to begin the program of remarks and was followed by Cannon, who spoke about the importance and role of MISSION UNITED in supporting our veterans.  The program was then followed by a compelling video in which local veterans and MISSION UNITED clients Francisco Martinez and Dennis Dean Robinson detailed how the support they received through MISSION UNITED has changed their lives.



Throughout the evening, guests were invited to participate in the “Text to Donate” initiative, allowing them to purchase a Veterans Back to Work Kit, which includes a briefcase, career training and certifications, trade tools and materials, to be donated to veterans working to obtain a job . Nearly 300 kits were purchased for $75 on the night of the event through text donations.



All proceeds collected at the Mayors’ Gala will be utilized in the funding of a number of crucial services for veterans including housing, employment, education, health and more. With the continued help of community supporters, MISSION UNITED has had the opportunity to serve more than 2,000 veterans, to date.



JM Family Enterprises and Southeast Toyota Distributors were the title sponsors for this year’s gala, while Broward Health served as the presenting sponsor. Additional sponsors included Consolidated Credit, Publix Super Market Charities, Holman Automotive Group, Nova Southeastern University, AutoNation, The Florida Panthers, Celebrity Cruises and Kendall Properties.