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Savannah nonprofit to host comedy show fundraiser in support of student-athletes

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A local nonprofit organization’s annual fundraiser aims to add a little laughter to the lives of the children it serves.

Performance Initiative’s “Stand Up For Kids” fundraiser is in week five of its eight-week run, which will culminate with a special comedy show hosted at the organization’s gym on Nov. 7.

“It’s probably the funnest, most exciting fundraiser we do, but it also engages all of our members and their families in the community,” Performance Initiatives head coach and founder, Kerri Goodrich, told WSAV NOW.

The nonprofit, which has served the community since 2007, works to educate and mentor youth and adults mentally, physically and spiritually through athletics and fitness.

Right now, they’re also offering an online hosting program for up to 15 students that are currently enrolled in online school.

Fundraising is essential in continuing the organization’s overall mission, Goodrich says.

“The money raised helps keep our lights on, it helps keep the building open and providing services for our youth not just for after school, but year-round,” she said.

“We’re able to bring in more specialty tutors, we’re able to provide more opportunities as far as our competition team that travels,” Goodrich said, adding, “We have a lot of athletes that compete and they go to national level, then many of them have moved on to international and some of them are in the top-ranked positions in Team USA.”

The dedicated coach says the goal at Performance Initiatives is to support the student-athletes through their college careers. 

“That takes a large community to do that and continue that outreach so we don’t ever have to put a kid on a waiting list or tell a kid they can’t come into a program,” Goodrich said.

This year’s “Stand Up For Kids” fundraiser will feature five Savannah comics who are running an online campaign competition to see which comedian will raise the most funds.

The comedians who will take the stage during the November comedy show are Marianne Ganem Poppell, Bret Bell, Wade Herring, Samantha Oughtred and Christopher Soucy.

Each performer was assigned a fundraiser page to spread the word about contributing to the cause.

“Comedy is a great equalizer, it brings people together and kind of smooths over a lot of the sharp and jagged pieces of our lives,” said Soucy, who has performed theater in Savannah for nearly 30 years.

It’s his first year participating in the fundraiser. “It is good to have a place where you can be happy and joyful and laugh, and laughter is indeed a great medicine,” Soucy told WSAV NOW, adding, “These are the times that medicine like laughter is greatly needed.”

Last year’s “Stand Up For Kids” was a success, bringing in around $35,000, says Anne Robinson, founder and principal consultant for Momentum Development Solutions, which helps organize the annual fundraiser. 

“Instead of having a crowd of 160 like we did last year at the [American] Legion, we’re going to set up a stage here at Performance Initiatives and it’s going to be like a nightclub atmosphere where there’s going to be fewer people to make it safer,” Robinson said.

As a fun touch to the minimized in-person crowd this year, there will be cardboard cutouts of “guests” throughout the audience.

Ticket holders can also watch the Nov. 7 comedy show from the comfort of their homes.

“People that buy tickets and donate will get a Zoom code, and they’ll be able to watch it live,” Goodrich said.

Organizers say tickets for the event are $40. To learn more about the fundraiser, visit the Performance Initiatives website or its Facebook page.

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