Celebrating Our ENORE! at the 36th Annual Benefit Gala!

On Saturday, October 14, a sold-out crowd of more than 475 attendees gathered at Starlight to celebrate the performing arts and their impact at our 36th Annual Benefit Gala: ENCORE!  

2023 Gala Chairs

Chaired by Aviva Ajmera & Wayne Strickland, Nancy Whitworth & Doug Ballou, and Carey & Tom Wilkins, this year’s event exceeded fundraising goals, raising more than $650,000 thanks to the generosity of sponsors, ticketholders, and donors.  Each year, funds raised through the Gala enable Starlight to impact the lives of 30,000 residents through education and community engagement programs, bring world-class Broadway productions and concerts to more than 320,000 patrons, and sustain this cultural landmark for generations to come. 

Dressed in formal attire, Gala attendees enjoyed a red-carpet reception, sponsored by Monarch, in the Shirley Bush Helzberg Garden of the Stars. A delicious dinner and entertainment followed, sponsored by JE Dunn Construction, on the Jeanette and Jerome Cohen Community Stage. The program featured 22 talented performing artists, including nine Vincent Legacy Scholars and a dozen performers from previous Starlight productions who returned to our stage for their “encore”. 

Star Award Recognition

After being introduced by KC native, national celebrity, and Vincent Legacy Scholar Alumnus Kalen Allen, Greg and Rebecca Reid were presented with the 2023 Star Award in recognition for their ongoing support of Kansas City’s youth and the immeasurable impact of the Vincent Legacy Scholarship program. Attendees raised more than $16,000 to support the program during the Gala, the equivalent of six Vincent Legacy Scholarships.  

Guests enjoyed a performance by Vincent Legacy Scholars and Alumni, featuring vocals by Lauren Howard and dance by Courtney Germany. Lauren and Courtney were joined by Ashlynn Hampton, James Hawkins, Elliana Hishaw, Brielle Jefferson, Sav Jordan, Chamberlain Webster, and Garrett Webster II.  

Performance by Vincent Legacy Scholars and Alumni during 2023 Gala
Greg and Rebecca Reid receive the 2023 Star Award.
The after party included cast members from past productions of Legally Blonde, Hairspray, and Godspell.

The formal program also included a sneak-peek announcement of Uniquely KC, Starlight’s capital campaign. The campaign, publicly announced on Monday, October 16, aims to raise $40 million to support new community engagement programming and capital/building improvements. 

The night ended on a celebratory note with an after party, sponsored by Concord, consisting of live music by The Crossroad Sound and dancing in the Applause Club. 

Save the Date!

Starlight’s 37th Annual Gala will take place Saturday, October 5th, 2024, and will be chaired by Whitney Bartelli and Dean & Anita Newton.

Keep an eye on our website for event details coming soon, or contact Erin Olm-Shipman at erin.olm-shipman@kcstarlight.com

Thank you to this year’s Gala benefactors for their extraordinary generosity: 

Investor ($25,000+)

SP logo

SP Plus Corporation, in honor of Greg and Rebecca Reid

Director ($15,000+)

Evergy logo
JE Dunn
McCown Gordon

Edward P. Millbank

Seigfreid Bingham PC

Star ($10,000+)

Aviva Ajmera & Wayne Strickland

Blue Cross and Blue Shield
CommunityAmerica Credit Union
Creative Planning

The Deramus Foundation


Donald J. Hall

Shirley & Barnett Helzberg Jr. Donor Advisory Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City

Hunt Midwest


Sponsors | Lockton | Starry Night
McCarthy Auto Group

The McDonnell Foundation, Inc.

Jonalee & Paul McLaughlin

Don & Jean Wagner Charitable Foundation

Nancy Whitworth & Doug Ballou

Carey & Tom Wilkins

Playwright ($6,000+)

Burns & McDonnell 

Commerce Bank 

Country Club Bank 

ECCO Select 

The Elsberry Family Foundation 

Enterprise Bank & Trust 


Dave & Laura Hall 


Joan Horan 

Kansas City Parks & Recreation 


Olsson, Inc.  

Actor ($3,750+)

American Century Investments 

Robert & Dr. Phyllis Bernstein 

Becky Blades & Cary Phillips 

CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services of Kansas City 

The City of Kansas City 



Steve & Cathy Doyal 


Sherry & Gary Forsee 

Donald & Diantha Hagan 

Marlys & Michael Haverty 

Kansas City Testing & Engineering 

Marilyn Kulmus & John Shuenhaer 

Mark One Electric Co., Inc. 

McCown Family Foundation 


ReeceNichols Real Estate 

Stepp & Rothwell 

Strickland Construction 


Donna Thomason 

Turner Construction Company 

Russell & Debbie Welsh 

We appreciate the support of all the additional donors who made this event possible! 

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