What a weekend. ANNIKA & Friends at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is now officially the biggest event the ANNIKA Foundation has ever held, and we could not be more excited at the result.
On May 12 & 13, Annika joined seventeen of her celebrity friends for a weekend filled with fun, music, golf and more. Proceeds from the event supported the ANNIKA Foundation in implementing SPARK, the leading PE program for children, in northwest Florida schools.
Celebrity golfers included Olympians Michelle Kwan, Dan Jansen and Bode Miller; actor Alfonso Ribeiro; “Dancing With the Stars’” Tony Dovolani; NFL standouts Anthony Muñoz, Ricky Watters and Robbie Gould; rock-and-roll legend Alice Cooper; FOX Network host Gerri Willis; and LPGA stars Yani Tseng, Morgan Pressel, Laura Diaz, Suzann Pettersen, Charlotta Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez, and Golf Channel’s Karen Palacios-Jansen.
We worked closely with Monark Events to create a memorable experience for all celebrities, sponsors and concert attendees throughout the weekend. What a talented team they have. Their attention to detail and organization helped make this event memorable. The Foundation team worked closely with them, Sandestin and many other groups in Northwest Florida to put this event together.
Saturday’s events included a reception for VIP sponsors and celebrities outside the Grand Hotel, Sandestin. It was a gorgeous night and even more beautiful venue for this wine tasting and cocktail reception. All eighteen celebrity golfers came out to the reception and everyone had a great time meeting each other. After the reception, our celebrities walked the red, I mean, blue carpet in honor of the ANNIKA Foundation! Media snapped photos as Alice Cooper, Yani Tseng, Suzann Pettersen and more big names strolled across the step-and-repeat.
Everyone walked down to Sandestin’s Magnolia Ballroom for dinner after that. VIP celebrities and sponsors enjoyed a dessert of raspberry crisp – one of Annika’s own recipes! After dinner, Annika and her husband Mike got up on stage. They were great emcees for the evening! The two of them introduced all the celebrities there, and thus began the draw party portion of the evening.
For the draw party, everyone had the chance to bid on a celebrity of their choice to play golf with the next day. It worked the same as a silent auction, so if you wanted to play with a certain celebrity, you’d bid on them just as you were bidding on another silent auction item on the table. Some celebrities were quite popular, including Suzann Pettersen. She was taken off the silent auction table and brought to a live auction showdown because a few teams wanted so badly to play with her! In the end, all the celebrities were bid on and matched with great teams.
After the celebrity bidding ended, the live auction items began. They included tickets to Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding show with a round of golf with Alice, a trip to Telluride, Colorado, a 5-night stay at Ecuador’s Casa Ceibo, lunch with Jack Nicklaus, tickets to the Tavistock Cup, surf lessons and fitness with Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece, and dancing lessons with Tony Dovolani paired with VIP backstage passes to “Dancing With The Stars.” He even got up on stage and danced a little salsa with Annika! As those items were auctioned off, more silent auction items were bid on, including signed memorabilia from Annika, Mia Hamm, Andre Agassi, Cal Ripken, Jr., Dwight Howard and more.
We were so lucky to have a fantastic auction team, the girls from the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, who helped organize the entire evening. They were absolutely rock stars and were great to work with.
The evening featured some great entertainment, too! Country beauties Coldwater Jane and American Idol Top-40 contestant Richie Law played a few songs in between segments. The ANNIKA & Friends House Band, Class Act, played throughout the evening. Everyone had a great time and went home to recharge for Sunday’s golf tournament.
Sunday morning, everyone woke up to a not-so-nice mix of rain, thunder and lightning. I guess you can’t have an event without a few hiccups, right? It was pouring. Definitely not great conditions for a golf tournament, let alone our Darius Rucker concert outdoors at Grand Boulevard that night! The event team regrouped and decided to move the Mother’s Day Breakfast inside. The breakfast turned out great and everyone enjoyed a hearty start to the day.
Next on the agenda was a golf clinic outside at Raven Golf Club with Annika, but it was still pouring rain. So we improvised! There were six current and former LPGA players at the event this weekend, so all of the ladies got up in front of the group at breakfast and held a Q&A with the crowd. The girls talked about life on tour and stories from way back when. We even learned that LPGA superstar Laura Diaz dressed up as LPGA legend Nancy Lopez for Halloween when she was a kid! And there they were Sunday, sitting two chairs down from each other. We also heard from both Annika and her sister Charlotta about growing up together. The two of them were given a set of clubs at a very young age…one set of clubs. One sister got the even numbered irons, one the odd. Charlotta talked about how proud she was of her sister growing up, and even now as she founded the ANNIKA Foundation and keeps reaching new goals.
The crowd laughed (and even got choked up a little) as all the ladies told their stories. It was a great way to wait out the storm. As the sun began coming out, all the celebrity golfers and their teams headed outside to the Raven Golf Club to begin the tournament! The weather was absolutely perfect the rest of the day and many said the course was one of the best they’ve seen after a downpour like that!
Everyone had a blast at the golf tournament. Each celebrity was paired with one team and everyone seemed to get matched with the perfect star. Restaurant sponsors surrounded the tournament with small samples of food and drinks all along the 18-hole course. Everyone enjoyed snacks ranging from oysters to sliders, and wine to authentic German beer from the Hofbrau. The event was also covered by the Golf Channel.
After the tournament, everyone went back to the hotel to freshen up and took a shuttle to Grand Boulevard, the site of the Darius Rucker concert. The awards were announced at a VIP reception hosted by Fleming’s and Tommy Bahama. Alice Cooper had the winning team with a 13-under-par score of 59! After the award presentation, the VIPs enjoyed the Darius Rucker Concert at Grand Boulevard with more than 2,000 fans. It was a memorable evening filled with great music and great weather.
Many thanks to our great sponsors. They were a fantastic group and we were happy to have everyone so involved. You can find the complete list of ANNIKA & Friends sponsors here.
The whole event team is catching up on sleep (and e-mails) after a successful weekend. We are all hoping to do the event again next year. Can’t wait to see which celebrities join us in 2013!