As Champions For Learning’s signature event, Night of Champions celebrates the community of champions that has changed the lives of hundreds of Collier County students. This important celebration showcases our vibrant community, students and volunteers. Night of Champions includes a reception, three-course dinner, silent auction, and an exciting opportunity to fund-a-need!
Sponsorships help to lift the barriers that students on the path to career and college face, inspiring them to achieve.
This year we will honor our 2022-2023 Heart of the Apple recipient, Gary Personette, along with the 2022-2023 Champions: Pat Botthof, Braulio Colón, Ritch Cuvier, Serge Ecityan, Kim & Gary Price, and Marti & Gordon Watson!
Kim and Gary Price have supported Champions For Learning over the years because they understand the impact an educator can have on students. Married for 31 years, the couple has two children who attended Collier County Public Schools. The Prices began supporting Champions For Learning after their son’s teacher was honored as a Golden Apple recipient. Kim and Gary have supported Champions For Learning over the years in numerous ways. Gary has chaired Night of Champions, served on the Professional Advisors Network and Golden Apple Selection Committee, and both Kim and Gary’s businesses have been donors and event sponsors. Gary is a Principal and Founder of Fifth Avenue Family Office, and Kim is a Global Real Estate Advisor for Sotheby’s Realty.
Serge Ecityan, CFA is passionate about education because the importance of education was instilled in him at a young age. Upon moving to Naples, Serge’s company encouraged him to get involved with the community and introduced him to Champions For Learning. Today, Serge serves on the Board of Directors at Champions For Learning, and is actively involved in the Champions Advisory Council, Planned Giving Committee, Take Stock in Children Selection Committee, and the Classroom Grant Selection Committee. Serge is Vice President I Private Wealth Advisor, Director with BMO Wealth Management, which has sponsored Champions’ graduation event, for the past 5 years. BMO also sponsors Night of Champions and Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers. Serge and his wife have two children, both of whom have attended Collier County Public Schools.
Braulio Colón has dedicated his career to ensuring students have the support and tools they need to attend college; After all, his community did the same for him. As Vice President of Florida Student Success Initiatives at Helios Education Foundation, Braulio has led in the development of over $50 million in board-approved community investments supporting various initiatives and system-change projects in Florida and Arizona. Prior to Helios, Braulio was instrumental in creating the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) and supporting Champions For Learning in forming our local community impact network, Future Ready Collier. Helios Education Foundation supports postsecondary attainment for low-income and under-represented students in Florida and Arizona and backs the most-promising solutions to systemic problems that perpetuate achievement gaps.
Volunteerism is ingrained in Pat Read Botthof. From a young age, Pat recognized the needs in her community and done all she can to fill those needs through health and education. After retiring from a career in health care, Pat began volunteering with Champions For Learning. Pat first began serving as an event volunteer for Night of Champions in 2017. Since then, she has fulfilled several volunteer roles, including mentoring several students and serving on the ambassador council to support volunteer outreach and retention. Pat was instrumental in building volunteer programs at local organizations and has used this talent to support Champions For Learning in establishing onboarding and training processes for volunteers.
Ritch Cuvier knows the importance of hard work and an education. Graduating from Champions For Learning’s Take Stock in Children pilot program, Ritch was determined to help provide a better life for his family. Moving from Haiti to the United States, Ritch worked multiple jobs during high school while attending Golden Gate High School and taking dual enrollment classes at Florida South Western State College. Ritch went on to graduate from University of Central Florida in 2021 with a degree in Information Technology. He is now going back to school to obtain his masters degree. Amidst Ritch’s busy schedule, he still finds time to be an active alumni volunteer, participating in numerous networking opportunities and sharing his experience as a Champions For Learning graduate.
Helping young adults achieve their greatest protentional is something Gary Personette excels at. Recently named 2022-2023 Heart of the Apple recipient, Gary has been a volunteer with Champions For Learning for over ten years, starting with the Golden Gate High School pilot program. During his time, he has mentored five Champions For Learning students. Gary has been a Board member, an Ambassador, a selection committee volunteer, a financial aid coach, and an event volunteer. Gary was instrumental in bringing the successful INCubatoredu Entrepreneurship program to public schools throughout Collier County, preparing young people in an ever-changing global environment to be creative and resilient problem solvers and critical thinkers. As a former Wealth Manager for Wells Fargo, Gary exemplifies community and professional excellence.
For over 20 years, Marti and Gordon Watson have supported education within Collier County. The Watsons have been involved with Champions For Learning and the Take Stock In Children program in the roles of mentor, selection committee members and donors since they moved to Naples. The Watsons have touched many lives through the positive impact on the students they have mentored as well as connecting countless mentors and supporters to Champions For Learning. Marti and Gordon played an instrumental role in helping build the relationship with Florida South Western State College that lead to the Take Stock in Children pilot program through Champions For Learning. This program has provided countless opportunities for high school students striving to obtain a college degree with little to no debt. (not pictured)
A huge thank you to those that joined us at last year’s Night of Champions!
Last year we honored our 2021-2022 Heart of the Apple recipients, Betty & Marcelo Alvarez, and the 2021-2022 Champions: Hope Daley and Matt Dykes, Guenther Gosch, Angie Joseph, Janet Perna and Melanie Rose, and Kristy Schoen Pollard! You truly have changed the lives of hundreds of Collier County students.
While the names of the recognitions have evolved over the years, the purpose has always remained the same: to honor and recognize the amazing commitment and leadership our community has provided for learning and the success of students.