‘Squash gave me the tools to pick and choose my way to exist in the world at large’ says StreetSquash graduate Rakey
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
The growth of America’s urban squash network, and its ability to generate phenomenal fund-raising opportunities, was celebrated in majestic style when 1,200 guests gathered in the Grand Ballroom of New York City’s Midtown Hilton to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the SEA (Squash and Education Alliance) network.
More than 500 out-of-towners attended from across the country, as well as Canada, Mexico, Colombia, England, Ireland, Israel, India, Egypt and Hong Kong. It was an inspiring evening and the largest event in the history of the SEA partnership. The Jubilee raised a record-breaking $3.2 million.
Hall of Famer John Nimick, fresh from promoting another successful edition of the Tournament of Champions at nearby Grand Central Terminal, commanded the stage as MC. SEA’s Board Chair Amrit Kanwal thanked everyone for making the evening possible, and Executive Director Tim Wyant reflected on the network’s impact over the last 25 years.
The evening culminated in a show-stopping speech by StreetSquash graduate Rakey Drammeh. After moving to the U.S. from Gambia at the age of two, Rakey joined StreetSquash in Harlem when she was 11.
She went on to graduate from Bates College, where she captained the varsity squash team. Rakey now works as a software developer on the trading floor at Citibank and serves as a member of StreetSquash’s Board of Directors.
“Life can be a smooth enough ride just by knowing the right people,” said Rakey. “SEA introduced me to a world that I never imagined knowing or being part of. But more than that, it gave me the tools to pick and choose my way to exist in that world at large. StreetSquash taught me how to make choices and how to become myself as an individual in an ever complicated global environment. It taught me confidence and self advocacy. And that’s why I’m standing here today.”
The Jubilee was made possible by the generosity and leadership of the event’s Co-Chairs and leading supporters – Andrea and Russ Ball, Barbara and Tim Boroughs, Simone and Tench Coxe, Sue and Steve Mandel, Polly and Terry O’Toole, Julian Robertson, and Sarah and Spencer Robertson – and the more than 100 others who served on the event Committee. SEA is grateful that representatives from all 25 of its member organizations participated in the celebration.
Proceeds from the Jubilee will enable SEA to provide more educational and squash opportunities to our students and alumni, promote excellence and best practices among our member organizations, and incubate new programs in cities across the country and abroad.
“The Jubilee was a beautiful celebration of the important work that SEA’s member programs have been doing in communities across the country and abroad for the past quarter century,” said SEA’s Tim Wyant. “We are deeply grateful to the many thousands of people who have made all of this possible. It was inspiring to see so many come together this past weekend to mark this important milestone. The best is yet to come.”
Dartmouth sparks Saturday night fever to win Alumni Fundraising Competition
At the start of Saturday’s dinner, organisers were $200,000 shy of their $3 million fundraising goal, with $2.8 million raised. With the help of an anonymous $100,000 matching gift and hundreds of pledges made by text at the end of the dinner, they crossed the finish line and exceeded their goal.
A big thank you to the dozens of alumni groups from high schools and colleges across the country who rallied together to support the Jubilee. Harvard began Saturday night in the lead, with nearly 120 alumni in attendance and over $500,000 raised. After a generous and spirited fundraising effort at the end of the dinner, Dartmouth reclaimed the top spot.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the evening’s success!
Dartmouth – $555,800
Harvard – $536,880
Princeton – $205,830
Vassar – $129,200
UNC – $127,350
Duke – $126,200
Penn – $78,400
Williams – $66,150
Amherst – $55,725
Yale – $49,449
Cornell – $45,375
Trinity – $30,999
UVA – $25,200
Taft – $20,500
St. Paul’s – $18,750
Denison – $15,350
Pictures courtesy of SEA. Full gallery here