SBA raises funds for local cancer foundation

The 2010 SBA Charity Ball, Coastal Law’s philanthropic Barrister’s Ball, was held in April, with more than 600 people attending. And while law students are typically known to live on tight budgets, event guests this year contributed to the more than $10,000 collected for local charity The Donna Foundation, which supports Northeast Florida women living with breast cancer.

SBA President Whitney Wright and Alexis Hailpern, vice president of internal affairs for the SBA’s executive council, said they chose The Donna Foundation because of its close ties to the Jacksonville community.

“After we were elected, Whitney and I decided to heighten the event even more by donating to a Jacksonville charity and to raise our goal amount,” Hailpern said. “Although many students at Florida Coastal are not from Jacksonville, we all become a part of the community for at least three years, and it was always on our minds to give back.”

The planning team knew of The Donna Foundation through friends who had participated in the foundation’s annual marathon. After researching the foundation and its mission, the group decided the foundation would be an excellent choice. A theme emerged for the casino-themed event: “Ante up for Breast Cancer.”

“I think participation was high, overall, because students at Coastal are invested in public service and pro bono work,” Hailpern said. “The Donna Foundation does exceptional work for women in Jacksonville, and the more we educated the students about The Donna Foundation, the more willing they were to help and participate. Unfortunately, cancer affects almost everyone.”

Will the successful fundraising event become an annual tradition? Organizers say there are no guarantees, but all signs look promising.

“At the bottom of my heart, I know that students at Coastal understand the importance of giving back,” said Hailpern, who described the fundraiser as one of the greatest honors in her life. “Something tells me that this new tradition will not fade.”

In 2009, Coastal Law’s SBA earned national recognition for programming that raised $5,000 to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Wells Griffith, vice-chair of the American Bar Association Law Student Division, referred to Coastal Law as being an example to the approximately 200 ABA-accredited law schools during his semester address to all SBA presidents.

“My law school holds its Barrister’s Ball in the spring, and we are planning to follow Florida Coastal’s lead and use it as a platform to raise money to benefit one of the many charities in need,” said Griffith in a correspondence to all SBA chapters.