Kentucky & Southern Indiana Stroke Association

The Kentucky & Southern Indiana Stroke Association held its annual Heartstrings Dinner Dance on Feb. 10, at the Louisville Boat Club.

KSIA honored the late Emily Goodiel “Betty” Sprigg for her work with civic and charitable organizations.

With The Voice-Tribune’s John Harralson

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Daddy Daughter Dance 2012

Sacred Heart Model School held its third annual Daddy Daughter Dance on Feb. 10.

More than 130 families attended the high school prom-themed event, which featured heart-shaped doughnuts, pink lemonade and coffee.

The daughters wore corsages while their “dates” sported matching boutonnieres.

Photos by KELLY TALBOTT and HEATHER WATHEN | Contributing Photographers

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Volare After Hours

Volare Italian Ristorante hosted a special Valentine’s edition of “Volare After Hours” from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Feb. 11.

The event featured live music by Robbie Bartlett and a limited edition of Volare’s current menu.

Photos by TONY BENNETT | Contributing Photographer

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Hot for Teacher

The Galt House Hotel hosted the “Hot for Teacher” Party on Feb. 18.

Photos by TIM GIRTON | Contributing Photographer

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YWC Fleur de Lis Charity Ball

The Younger Woman’s Club (YWC) of Louisville hosted its annual Fleur de Lis Charity Ball on Feb. 18 at the Seelbach Hotel.

Photos by BILL WINE | Contributing Photographer

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McDazzle Red Tie Gala

The 10th annual McDazzle Red Tie Gala was held Feb. 18 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown.

The night included dinner, a silent auction, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and music by Nervous Melvin and the Mistakes.

Photos by TIM GIRTON | Contributing Photographer

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Click here to purchase photos.

Dining in the Dark at the Water Tower

Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) held a Dining In The Dark event on Feb. 18 at The Water Tower.

The event featured cocktails and dinner and an exclusive art auction with pieces featured in ReVision.

Photos by MAX SHARP | Contributing Photographer

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Tumbleweed Celebrity Server Night

Tumbleweed on the river hosted a local celebrity server night on Feb. 15 that included Joey Wagner, Sean Moth and The Voice-Tribune’s Angie Fenton.

All tips and dessert sales were donated to Special Olympics.

Photos by TIM GIRTON | Contributing Photographer

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Lexus GS Salon Show

The 2013 Lexus GS Salon Show was held at Lexus of Louisville, 2400 Blankenbaker Parkway, on Feb. 15.

Lexus of Louisville VIPs were among the attendees, as were national representatives from Lexus.

Photos by BILL WINE | Contributing Photographer

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Click here to purchase photos.

WHAS11 Wedding

Great Day Live! hosted its own Vegas-style wedding complete with an Elvis impersonator and a “showgirl” on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

Coty Brewer and Sara Morgan of Shelbyville married in front of ordained minister and Elvis impersonator Otis Berry led the ceremony and Jamie Stahl from the Va Va Vixens played the part of the showgirl.GDL hosts Rachel Platt and Terry Meiners were witnesses.

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Blessings Abound Thanks To People

Blessings in a Backpack staff members Kevin Beam, Beth Sedgwick, Nikki Grizzle, Beth Bush, Lisa Bishop, Jennifer Dickens and Stan Curtis.

Blessings in a Backpack staff members Kevin Beam, Beth Sedgwick, Nikki Grizzle, Beth Bush, Lisa Bishop, Jennifer Dickens and Stan Curtis.

People magazine, known and loved worldwide for entertainment news and gossip, is shining the spotlight on a new kind of celebrity – locally-based charity, Blessings in a Backpack.

The non-profit, which was founded in 2005 by Stan Curtis, was designed to feed elementary school children who qualify for the federally funded National School Lunch Program. Since beginning in Jefferson County, it has grown to serve nearly 59,000 children in the U.S., Colombia, Haiti and Canada. Recently, Blessings in a Packpack was named the benefiting charity for the year-long People magazine initiative, “People First: Help Feed a Child.”

Blessings in a Backpack staff members Kevin Beam, Beth Sedgwick, Nikki Grizzle, Beth Bush, Lisa Bishop, Jennifer Dickens and Stan Curtis.“(Of) all the charities in America and (People) chose one in Louisville, Ky., and that really makes me proud,” said Curtis, who was informed last October that his organization had been selected for the People campaign.

Beginning in early February, every six weeks, People will highlight Blessings in a Backpack in editorials, public service announcements, and a feature in People en Espanol magazine.

“We first really wanted to focus on childhood hunger because obviously it’s a huge issue in the country,” said Elizabeth Gleick, executive editor of People magazine. “When we looked at organizations addressing hunger we liked the idea of choosing something a little bit more local and grassroots. We felt like (Blessings in a Backpack) was a match with the People brand and we liked the mission.”

With the extended coverage in People, Blessings in a Backpack estimates the partnership will allow them to feed approximately 25,000 more children in 2012.

More than 62 percent of US school children qualify for the federally funded Free and Reduced Price Meal program, and for many of them, it’s their only source of nutrition during the week. But, with the help of Blessings in a Backpack, each Friday, many children leave school with a backpack filled with food to sustain them throughout the weekend.

The Voice-Tribune’s Ashley Anderson and Stan Curtis looked at the Blessings in a Backpack spread in People Magazine.

The Voice-Tribune’s Ashley Anderson and Stan Curtis looked at the Blessings in a Backpack spread in People Magazine.

The charity is also having a profound effect in the classroom, generating improvements in test scores, reading skills, positive behavior and increased attendance.

“You give (children) a chance to have consistent nutrition, they’re going to learn more,” Curtis said. “(We’ve received) thousands of letters from schools saying our grades are (going up), our math is (going up), our reading scores are (going up).”

An $80 donation to the organization can feed one American student in the program for an entire 38-week school year. By the end of 2012, People magazine expects donations to increase drastically, but Curtis – already astounded by the growth of his charity since 2005 – has no specific goal in mind, but simply hopes he made a difference in someone else’s life.

“It’s a pretty strong partnership and I think it’s going to mean tens of thousands of more children are going to be on this program,” said Curtis. “We don’t have a goal, we just want to feed more children. I think that if we’re able to feed a lot more kids and get more people aware of what children in American schools face and how easily it can be replicated and how easily it can be adopted and cared about in communities around this country, I think the goal will take care of itself.”

For more information on Blessings in a Backpack, visit www.blessingsinabackpack.org.

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at aanderson@voice-tribune.com.

Marketing Lessons From The Street

“When I introduce you, I’m gonna say, ‘This is a friend of mine.’ That means you’re a connected guy.”
— Al Pacino as Lefty in the movie “Donnie Brasco”

I learned some wonderful marketing tips from mobsters.

I grew up in northern Kentucky. My father was a professional gambler, and the Newport and Covington areas were heavily influenced, or controlled, by the Mafia.

My dad said about his bookmaking operations, “We can’t advertise on television or put a sign in the window. We can’t sue if someone doesn’t pay us. All we can do is hope that honorable people refer us to other honorable people.”

It must have been a good system. Without advertising, he never seemed to lack for customers.

I live in a more refined world of high finance and well-educated financial consultants. Many of my competitors are affiliated with huge corporations with million dollar marketing budgets.

As a small business, I have a marketing weapon that is impossible for a large corporation to compete with.

The friend-of-the-friend referral.

When I am meeting someone for the first time, I try to find if we have a common friend or connection. If you go through the six degrees of separation, most people will connect before you get two degrees away.

Instead of just saying my name, I mention our common relationship.

The common relationship is an immediate door opener and an immediate connection.

Especially if the connector is someone highly thought of.

Since I watched everyone do it when I was growing up, I thought that the friend-of-a-friend referral was a common practice.

I’ve discovered that most people don’t. They meet a new person, say hello, maybe learn their name and go on from there.

I don’t get it.

Being a friend-of-a-friend is the quickest way to get in my door. It’s the only way that you will become my Facebook or Linkedin friend.

I have several thousand Facebook friends when you include my business and fan pages. If you don’t have a common friend amongst them, I won’t add you as a friend unless I know you personally.

That doesn’t count celebrity “friends” that I don’t really know. I used to have Newt Gingrich and Bob Woodward as Facebook friends but I dropped them as I got tons of requests where one or the other was the only common “friend.”

I’ve met Newt four times, getting on and off airplanes. (I used to frequently go on a route that went to Washington via Atlanta.) That’s not enough for either of us to give a “friend-of-a-friend” referral.

I did have a friend-of-a-friend connection with John Edwards. I met him in 2003 when he was gearing up to run for President. We met in a crowded room and when I got my chance to say hello, I told him I was a friend of one of his former law partners.

Of the people in the room, I wound up having lunch with him. I wound up donating a reasonably large sum to his campaign, so it was a good friend-of-a-friend deal for him, too.

John’s political career didn’t end the way I had hoped, but he and Al Gore (who I got to know well after a friend-of-a-friend introduction) were the two people I’ve ever gotten to know who had a chance to be President of the United States.

“Donny Brasco” is a terrific movie at many levels, but I was always fascinated by the importance it placed on personal connections and being referred by the right people.

The referral process happens in every level of society. It’s how private clubs and organizations select their members.

Some of my friends will accuse me of name dropping. I don’t care and won’t change a lifetime habit that has worked pretty well for me.

Unlike my father’s world, I can do fancy marketing campaigns and I have good access to the media. From a business standpoint, none of those tactics work as well as being, a friend of a friend.

As Lefty said in Donny Brasco, “It means you are a connected guy.”

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is the bestselling author of the book, Wealth Without Wall Street; McNay, who lives in Richmond, Ky., is an award-winning financial columnist and Huffington Post contributor. You can learn more about him at www.donmcnay.com.