On Tuesday night, over 150 guests attended Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s 8th Annual Make a Difference at Vapor Night Club, which presented 26 local charitable organizations with monetary donations totaling $100,000. Those donations contributed to an overall $250,000 provided for community support by the casino in 2012. The event kicked off with a cocktail hour and spotted in the crowd were Jim LaVigne and Mary Gavin from Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar, Brian and Heather Straughter and Natalie Sillery from Jake’s Help from Heaven, Julie Johnson, Senator Elect Kathy Marchione, City of Saratoga Springs County Supervisors Matt Veitch and Joanne Yepsen and Commissioner Michele Madigan. Also in attendance was Saratoga County Chamber President Todd Shimkus, Terry Lee from the Saratoga Hospital Foundation, Julie Hoxsie from Saratoga EOC, Michelle Larkin from Rebuilding Together Saratoga and Valerie Muratori and Heather Varney from Saratoga Bridges.
At 6:30 p.m. the presentation began with opening remarks provided by Skip Carlson, Vice President of External Affairs at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. “In this economy, it is increasingly more difficult to obtain the monetary support that so many non-profit agencies need to reach their bottom line,” said Carlson. “This event serves as a reinforcement of the belief that these organizations must never give up on their mission.”
This year’s host, Benita Zahn, of News Channel 13 read a proclamation from Mayor Scott Johnson in his absence which expressed appreciation for the ongoing support offered by Saratoga Casino and Raceway in the 70 years it has been part of the community.
While it is perhaps best known as a widely popular entertainment venue, the Casino and Raceway has always been very active in many charitable programs and events throughout Saratoga and the Capital Region,” it read. “Over the years, their dedicated officials and staff have donated more than $2 million to over 1,000 not-for-profit organizations. This year’s event will continue the tradition providing a total of $100,000 to 26 recipients.
Zahn then began presenting the checks. The selected host each year is given the opportunity to allocate $2,500 for the organization(s) of their choice. Zahn’s selections for 2012 were Building on Love and the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, each receiving $1,250.
Since its official inception in 2006, the annual Make a Difference event has presented $715,000 to local organizations, and over $2 million in monetary, sponsorship and in-kind donations have been made by Saratoga Casino and Raceway since opening in 2004.
“We understand the importance of continued support for local organizations that make a difference in our community,” said Jamie Hartman, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Our contributions ensure that the programs provided by these organizations can continue to benefit our employees, families, friends and neighbors. We look forward to continuing the Make a Difference tradition.”
Some of the other recipients on Tuesday night included Jake’s Help From Heaven which received $2,500, the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council, Inc. and the Saratoga Hospital Foundation which both received $10,000 and the Franklin Community Center, Inc. and Saratoga P.L.A.N. which both received $5,000.