Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
Nineteen years ago, Rob Benzon passed away in an ocean rip current in Acapulco. He was just out there swimming — four went in, three came out. He was a popular guy, manager of Flicks at the time, and at his wake, his friends decided to do a pass the hat. His mother said she would match the donations in the collection, plus added proceeds from selling his possessions. The Rob Benzon Memorial fund, which later became the Rob Benzon Foundation, began with $10,000 with the intention to help those in the San Diego community in need.
Choosing Pride as the yearly kickoff fundraiser, what began as a backyard party of 50 people now draws hundreds of attendees. After 19 years, the Foundation has given back more than $250,000 to people in need. An all-volunteer nonprofit organization, 100 percent of ticket sales are donated back into the community in the form of grants. The Foundation helps individuals in the community who suffer from personal catastrophic events, not of their own making, who are in need of emergency support for actual expenses. It also focuses on helping select charitable causes, primarily those benefiting the youth and the LGBT communities.
Kicking off Pride each year, the Foundation held its yearly event on July 13 at the historic Burnham house in Balboa Park. Growing over the years, this annual event attracts hundreds of people in Rob’s memory, with many of his friends serving on the board today.
The grounds of the Burnham house were filled with local top chefs providing samples of the best of San Diego’s fine dining. With an exclusive VIP lounge, guest were treated to elite restaurants’ horse d’oeuvres and an open bar.
Manfest San Diego (one of many sponsors of the evening) held its exclusive fashion show of its wide array of designer clothing, swimwear, and playwear, emceed by the fabulous and quick-witted Celeste W. Starr.
Many longtime supporters wore a red ribbon indicating the many years they have supported the Foundation. What began as a gathering of friends has morphed into an event that brings together many prominent leaders of the community at a fun, fantastic and fashionable affair.
— Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.