Nearly $1.1 million was raised to support the work of the Belle Isle Conservancy at the 2015 PwC Grand Prixmiere, presented by Chevrolet, May 29. Proceeds from the event will aid the Conservancy’s efforts to maintain, renovate and enrich Belle Isle Park, as well as provide unique programming to the island’s visitors.
Held for the second time on Belle Isle Park, more than 500 attendees traveled on the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix race course to the trackside celebration overlooking a fully-operational Scott Fountain to highlight the first day of on-track activity at the Grand Prix.
“This spectacular fundraiser was a premier evening that only Detroit can deliver. We are very grateful to Roger Penske and his entire organization for making it possible for us to welcome guests in grand fashion alongside the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix track,” said Michele Hodges, president of the Belle Isle Conservancy. “And, thanks to the generosity of our corporate partners in supporting this event, the Belle Isle Conservancy is poised for significant progress as we embark on our journey to enhance Belle Isle Park in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.”
The sold-out fundraiser, titled “Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!” was chaired by Paula and Steve Kiefer, vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, General Motors.
“Paula and I were honored to be involved with this outstanding event as it continues to gain momentum,” said Steve Kiefer. “I am truly astounded by the tremendous support we received from our partners in bringing this evening from concept to fruition.”
Emceed by News/Talk 760 WJR’s Paul W. Smith, the event was supported by significant contributions from PwC, Chevrolet, FirstMerit and MadDog Technologies.
“The financial generosity of corporate Detroit is critical for Belle Isle’s continued growth,” said Bud Denker, executive vice president of Penske Corporation. “Detroit is a city unlike any other, where both public and private sectors come together in great cooperation when support is most needed.”
More than $600,000 of the evening’s proceeds were generated through spirited bidding for six unique live auction packages, which included a holiday reception at the Belle Isle Conservancy, a VIP trip to the 2015 Country Music Awards, a Corvette engine build experience, a hot lap experience at Milford Proving Ground with Helio Castroneves, a gourmet dinner with the Kiefers, the Denkers and Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The greatest bidding action surrounded a Shinola City Clock, resulting in a second clock going to the next highest bidder.
Guests also donated generously during an appeal in support of the Conservancy’s field trip program through the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and Belle Isle Aquarium for Detroit Public Schools elementary school children.
Topping off the night was a surprise $50,000 donation from the General Motors Foundation, announced by the Kiefers.
“The preservation and restoration of Belle isle is key to Detroit’s future. We are proud to help the island realize its full potential, providing visitors with easier access to the park, its activities and programming,” added Steve Kiefer. “It is imperative that we support activities that showcase the island’s greatest treasures in a way that positively impacts and educates its visitors, particularly the city’s youth.”