It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood movie: A group of dedicated, plucky patrons of the arts decide to pull off a glamour-filled event to raise monies for local nonprofits in an airport terminal.
Yet this is no screenplay description. On February 22, 2014, a Red Carpet Soiree left attendees entertained and indulged as they enjoyed a transformed Harrisburg International Airport (HIA) sky bridge, ticketing area and baggage claim. The celebration also left the Cultural Enrichment Fund (CEF) with more than $100,000 to donate to regional arts centers.
The brainchild of Questmont President and Founder Taylor K. Ranker, II, the Red Carpet Soiree was the first event of its kind in central Pennsylvania. Approximately 250 people were in attendance, many of whom were new to the CEF family. The Soiree was also HIA’s inaugural attempt at accommodating a philanthropic group for a fundraising evening.
Taylor Ranker’s wife and business associate, Sonya, helped lead the Red Carpet Soiree Committee with the assistance of Chad E. Barger, CEF executive director. “The whole concept was incredibly ambitious,” she admits. “Imagine having to turn an airport into the site for an almost-dreamlike experience! We spent hours and hours meticulously examining and designing every detail, and the committee’s hard work paid off. David Everett of JDK Catering kept us all inspired; as our décor artist, he transformed HIA into a stylish, fun environment. In the end, we raised monies the CEF needs to continue its mission. Plus, everyone left with huge smiles and amazing memories!”
Barger was hoping for a sellout event according to statements made to the press prior to the Soiree, and his dream was absolutely realized. In fact, the $100K that was raised nearly doubled the amount the group made from their annual gala in 2013. Consequently, the CEF can carry on its goal of investing funds in a variety of arts organizations to advance and sustain a vibrant, diverse arts and cultural life in the Capital Region.
At this point, of course, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is how to top the Soiree in 2015. With innovative leaders like the Rankers and Barger navigating the way, next year’s event will no doubt be just as “high flying”.