NBA Hall of Famers Bill Walton and Bob Lanier entertained nearly 700 business and professional leaders attending Jewish Family Service’s (JFS) 13th annual JFS Executive Luncheon held on April 28 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. Attendees donated more than $50,000 in the room to make a $50,000 challenge grant match from an anonymous donor. In total, the event raised $556,000 to support the life-transforming programs of Jewish Family Service.
Co-chairs Jonathan Alpert, David Feiner, and Scott Stillman, along with board chair Jane E. Rosenbaum, thanked guests and sponsors for their support. President and CEO Shepard Nevel spoke about Jewish Family Service and emphasized that the agency serves people of ALL faiths, ages, incomes, and abilities.
Seated at a sports show-style desk with emcee Jerry Schemmel, Bill Walton and Bob Lanier took the stage to discuss their basketball careers, philanthropy, leadership, and everything in between. Fast-talking Walton got in several friendly jabs about Lanier, but also about himself. Speaking about overcoming a severe stutter, Walton said, “Learning to speak is my greatest accomplishment and your worst nightmare.” Both men impressed upon the audience the importance of giving back and helping others, and cited JFS as a great example of an organization that is taking care of those in need. Lanier sagely said, “Serving is an endless task…but we have to continue to do this important work and teach future generations.”
The luncheon concluded with audience members challenging Walton and Lanier to one-on-one basketball shooting matches using “Pop-a-Shot” machines. Students from South High’s girls’ and boys’ basketball teams—invited as JFS guests—started off the competition and many others followed. The players graciously stayed to sign autographs and talk with guests after the event.
Nearly 100 companies, organizations, foundations, and individuals supported the event through sponsorships. Chief Operating Sponsors included Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Denver Business Journal, Image Audiovisuals, and JEWISHcolorado; Chief Information Sponsors were Brent and Julie Morse; and Chief Financial Sponsors included ANB Bank, Bender Foundation Inc., Terry Fenner and Dawn Richard, Harold Foonberg, Jack and Celeste Grynberg, Charlie Gwirtsman and Nancy Reichman, Aaron and Niah Hyatt, The Ernest S. Madison Family Foundation, MassMutual Colorado, MorEvents—Gareth Heyman and Betsy Mordecai Heyman, Rocky Mountain PBS, ROI Equities—Jamie and Leanna Harris, Stanton and Jane E. Rosenbaum, and the Saltzman and Topelson Families. View the complete sponsor list!