For organizer Jane Younger, the event has drawn high praise, having won accolades from the Tampa Bay Business Journal as Best in the Biz Readers Choice Awards for Favorite Black Tie Event/Fundraiser Gala; and Favorite Event Planner.
But she didn’t have much time to sit on her laurels. For this event, as the guests leave Younger is already planning for the next year. It’s her passion. As the special events coordinator at Jesuit, Younger has raised more than $4 million during her 11 years of helping with the Gaudiosa event, which has a different theme every year. Last year’s event, which was titled, “An Evening in Montserrat,’’ raised more than $650,000, monies which helped provide scholarships to worthy students who might not otherwise be able to afford the school.
This year, projections are higher. The theme for this year’s event, to be held March 8, is “An Evening in the Holy Land.’’
Gaudiosa can be translated to “a joyous feast,’’ which pretty much explains the event every year. Younger has been running the show for seven years, and while guests enjoy the night, she’ll be in the background, making sure everything is running the way it should and, in the back of her mind, planning the next Gaudiosa.
“We did so well last year, we have to do better this year,’’ Younger said. “It really takes a year to put this event on and there’s never a moment to relax, but I love it.’’
Younger gets plenty of help from parents clubs inside of Jesuit.
“I can’t do it all myself and it is humbling,’’ Younger said. “If I didn’t have plenty of volunteers, giving their time, we would have nothing.’’
Younger, herself, started as a volunteer for Gaudiosa. At first, the event was a dinner and a dance. Then it grew bigger and bigger. It started at a small restaurant, then moved to the Straz Center, and simply outgrew that, too. Now it’s off to the Hilton Tampa Downtown. For the past few years, more than 600 guests have attended – a sell out crowd – with alumni and parents buying the bulk of the tickets. All of the funds go towards tuition assistance.
“Our goal is to never deny a Jesuit education to anyone who wants it,’’ Younger said. “This isn’t work when I see how it all turns out. This is too much fun.’’
The event will feature a silent auction and a live auction among other fundraising activities. Last year, Gaudiosa featured an autographed basketball from the Jesuit boys team, along with other items of interest.
Younger said the event has come a long way since she first got involved 11 years ago.
“They call us ‘Jane’s Army,’’’ Younger said. “I didn’t deserve that award. It’s too much fun and the whole army deserved the award. It’s an honor.’’
Younger keeps an eye on the event year round. When asked on a recent Tuesday, she didn’t delay with her response.
“It’s 128 days away,’’ Younger said. “I keep score.’’
For more on sponsoring Gaudiosa or participating, call (813) 877-5344.