Best and Brightest

We had heard the stories. Mary Scannell of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester told us that “Don does everything big,” when we were researching Rodman’s Ride.

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Larry Green (left), Don Rodman and Bruce Rodman (right)

We knew that, during the course of a conversation between Don Rodman and Bob Scannell of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester back in 2003, Don’s idea to take a few children to a live theatrical performance quickly escalated to a complete four-wall rental of The Wang Theatre for a show of Beauty and the Beast. Before you could blink, 2,000 Boston children were in a parade of 50 school buses and ushered by police escort to plush seats in a grand theatre to see an even grander spectacle unfold onstage.

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We also knew that after Don Rodman had taken his grandkids to Disney, he wanted disadvantaged kids to experience it, too. Local children who might never go to Orlando, fly on an airplane, shake hands with Mickey or ride Space Mountain. We knew that the children selected to participate in Don’s Disney for Kids program soon grew from 50 to 150 annually and that, to date, more than 2,000 children have now felt the magic of the Magic Kingdom.

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So how was it that—still—we were amazed to be greeted by a line that filed well out of the Seaport World Trade Center this past Saturday for Rodman’s annual holiday party (dare we call it that?) Celebration for Kids? And surprised when a confetti snow shower marked our entry into the throng of merrymakers (2800+!) who were tucking into the delights of 50 something chefs (think dreamy mac and cheese bites with sirloin, blackened scallops with blood orange marmalade, heady Vermont Creamery cheeses …) or scanning the wares of a silent auction more than 500 gift baskets strong?
We now know Don and what he and his team are capable of, so we should have suspected that the voices of the Neighborhood Children’s Choir would greet us while waiting in cue or that a procession of affable, kilt-clad, spat-wearing pipers and drummers from the Boston Police Gaelic Column would signal that the live auction was about to begin. Among the items for bidding? A week’s stay for four at a villa in Tuscany; a NYC movie premiere, dinner for two and a Times Square stay; and, get this, Gronk’s Party Cruise Trip for Two with the tight-end and his band of brothers to a private Bahamian island. Don wouldn’t have it any other way.

IMG_5647[2]When it was all said and done, Celebration for Kids—with the help of its sponsors, including the J. Derenzo companies at the helm—raised over $1 million for local at-risk children. Don was beaming, yes, but not so much because he and his committee pulled off a fantastic, larger-than-life gala (though they did!). He was smiling more for the spectacle we wouldn’t see. Where a child in need receives a coat, a meal, music lesson or camp experience. That’s what’s truly dazzling.