October 23, 2018

On Saturday, October 13, 2018, Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) hosted its 9th Annual Spirit of Excellence Gala at KIA Motors America. With over 300 guests in attendance, including a mix of civic and business leaders as well as individual community members, the event raised more than $770,000. Funds raised will help fund critical programs and classroom support for Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).

The evening also celebrated the accomplishments of three individuals whose education in Irvine set the stage for their future success. Honorees each received the Spirit of Excellence Award in their respective fields, in recognition of their achievements.

“We are so honored to have the opportunity to showcase the talent and achievements of both current and former students that have become the hallmark of Irvine Unified School District,” explains Neda Eaton, President and CEO of Irvine Public Schools Foundation. “Our annual gala is a shining example of how community support of education can effect real change for our young people. We are proud to facilitate public-private partnerships that provide innovative programs and opportunities to inspire students to follow their dreams and make the world a better a place.”

These honorees included:

  • Spirit of Excellence in Music Andy Dodd, Award winning writer and producer of over 50 million albums sold worldwide (Woodbridge High School, Class of 1995)
  • Spirit of Excellence in Athletics Benny Feilhaber, Major League Soccer midfielder for Los Angeles Football Club, USA National Team (Northwood High School, Class of 2003)
  • Spirit of Excellence in Service Colonel Craig Allton, Highly decorated United States Air Force Security Forces Officer (University High School, Class of 1987)

The evening began with a red carpet arrival, cocktail reception and silent auction, featuring more than 60 exclusive items. Coveted items in the auction included a wine trip to Bordeaux, France donated by Total Wine and More, a chef’s tasting dinner at ARC restaurant, and autographed sports memorabilia from such notable athletes as four-time NBA MVP, Lebron James, and NHL All-Star, Ryan Getzlaf.

The evening featured a moving musical performance by Sylvia Ruszat, senior at Woodbridge High School, and Fiori Lee, 6th grader at Alderwood Elementary, who sang “Who I am,” written by honoree, Andy Dodd. A live auction during dinner featured six amazing experiences, including a Neiman Marcus Couture and Car Collective package, a dream getaway experience to Mexico, and a private pop-up dinner with Chef Dee Nguyen of Break of Dawn.

“The success of the 2018 Spirit of Excellence Gala is a testament to the unwavering support the Irvine community has for education,” said Eaton. “Our sponsors and gala committee showed tremendous leadership, which resulted in our most successful event yet. The funds raised will make an impact in the educational experience of over 35,000 students in our community.”

FivePoint was the presenting sponsor for the ninth consecutive year. Other corporate sponsors included GoogleFiber, Kading Briggs LLP, BrightView, FUTEK and Neiman Marcus, Fashion Island.

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