Friars Club Awards Dinner
BY TONI CASHNELLI
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
They are athletes who advocate for youth, activists who champion the underserved, families who persevere through tragedy to light the way for others. April 15 at its 44th Annual Community Dinner in Cincinnati, Friars Club said thank you to people like these who exemplify the spirit of giving.
It was the second dinner at Friars’ new facility but there were several firsts:
Honoree Andrew Whitworth of the Cincinnati Bengals and former teammate Dhani Jones autographed footballs and basketballs and posed for pictures with some very excited Friars Kids. "I believe in what they do here," Andrew said.
Attendees browsed items offered for a silent auction before the dinner, then took part in a spirited after-dinner auction hosted (with gusto) by Chanel 12’s Bob Herzog.
The awards went high-tech, with video intros of honorees flashed on twin screens in the basketball courts, transformed into a dining room with artful lighting and décor.
"The whole atmosphere was very different," says Annie Timmons, Friars Club Executive Director. "People told me [afterward] that it was a lot of fun, the best dinner they’ve been to." A generous crowd – nearly twice the usual attendance – helped Friars raise about $80,000 for its athletic and Learning Center programs.
Introduced by Chanel 12 news anchor Rob Braun, who was returning for his 35th dinner, Annie previewed the awards presentation. "I would describe all of our honorees as ‘superheroes’," she said.
Through his BigWhit 77 Foundation, "Andrew Whitworth has been a role model for many young kids," Annie said of the Player of the Year. Friars Award winner Jeanette Altenau, TriHealth’s Director of Community Relations, is "a caretaker of the community." And receiving the Francis Award were the parents of Lauren Hill, the courageous teen who spent her final months raising awareness about pediatric brain cancer and raising millions of dollars for research before she died.
At the lectern, Jeanette turned the attention to others like "the Franciscans, who impart their heart and soul" to ministries like Friars Club. Lauren’s Mom Lisa encouraged the audience to "find something to fight for." And Andrew deflected the applause. "This is such a cool opportunity to be here," he told the crowd. "You may think I’ve inspired kids, but you inspire me."
Spoken like a true superhero.