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Green and Gold Gala honoring Starr a success

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Nearly 50 Green Bay Packers alumni, dozens who played with or for Bart Starr, flooded Lambeau Field Friday, Sept. 13, for the 31st Annual Green and Gold Gala.

The gala, which benefits Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, was just one of the many events held during Alumni Weekend to honor the late Packers icon.

Jeff Vande Leest, president of Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, said about five years ago, the organization developed the arrangement with the Green Bay Packers so the Green and Gold Gala would always be held in conjunction with Alumni Weekend.

“That is really where our event really took off when we had the excitement and enthusiasm of the alumni coming back, sharing their stories and their willingness to mingle with the fans has really been an important thing for us,” Vande Leest said.

He said this year’s event was recording-breaking with 800 attendees. This is the first time the event has ever sold out.

“The interest in the event has been sky-high this year,” Vande Leest said. “The fact that the Starr family is here tonight and we are honoring the legacy of Bart Starr has just been a huge benefit for us.”

The money raised through the Green and Gold Gala goes toward supporting Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin programming.

“Not all the programs that we operate are fully funded, so when there are gaps in the funding, or expanding and bringing creative services into the community, this money allows us to be innovative and continue to fill the gaps and meet the community needs that are out there,” Vande Leest said.

Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin is the oldest human services organization in the Green Bay/Brown County area, he said.

“We have been around for a long time, and I think we’ve gotten pretty good at what we do,” Vande Leest said.

The evening started with an informal reception on the fourth floor of the Lambeau Field Atrium, giving attendees the chance to bid on the nearly 300 silent auction items, as well as mix and mingle with Packers alumni.

Silent auction items included a ride to Lambeau Field in Starr’s 1967 Super Bowl MVP Corvette Stingray, the Packers 100 Seasons flag that flew over Lambeau Field and a variety of autographed pictures from Packers greats.

A sit-down dinner, live auction – featuring a signed Starr jersey and a helmet signed by 18 NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks, including Starr and Brett Favre – and program followed.

Cherry Starr and Bart Starr Jr. sat down with Packers alum Larry McCarren to talk about Bart Starr Sr., his life and his philanthropic efforts in Green Bay and their home state of Alabama.

The Starrs delighted the crowd with stories and memories of the late Hall of Fame quarterback.

“I never thought I’d be here under such circumstances, but I was so pleased when they told me what they wanted to do,” Cherry Starr said. “We follow the Packers every Sunday, we’re their biggest fans still. Bart would be so proud, I know he would be. I miss him so much.”

Following the Q&A, Family Services presented the Starrs with the Billie “Irene” Kress Community Impact Award for all they’ve done for the communities they’ve been a part of.

The events honoring Starr continued Saturday, Sept. 14, with a commemorative celebration at Rawhide in New London.

On Sunday, Sept. 15, players, alumni and fans took time to honor the Packers great with a brief halftime presentation during the Packers win over the Vikings.

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