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Community News

Fundraising Event Supports the Gems in Athletics Department

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 9
5/2/2014


By Ivanna Lastra

The Walter Pyramid at CSULB will be transformed into a smorgasbord of local eateries for the 20th annual Jewels of the Night event, benefiting Long Beach State’s student-athlete scholarship. The food and wine festival on May 3 at 5 p.m., is said to be the school’s fundraising event of the year. The co-chairs of the event are Dr. Kalim Rayburn and Eric Johnson, both whom have a long standing admiration for Long Beach State Athletics.

Having now reached its 20th anniversary, the planning committee still manages to make Jewels of the Night fresh. This year’s auction is going mobile for the first time. Using a silent auction technology system called “Qtego,” guests will participate in bids and receive updates directly to their mobile device via SMS text message. In a recent interview, Johnson talked about the development of Jewels. “The event has been building and growing each year and is truly one of our communities ‘must attend’ events,” Johnson said.

The event hits close to home for Rayburn who has long standing ties with CSULB and a lasting friendship with Co-Chair Johnson. “This event is symbolic in that I was given an opportunity to Co-Chair an event with a childhood friend who also grew up loving the Beach, supporting an organization that laid the foundation for the success of many of my student-athlete alumni peers, bringing together a community of Long Beach State family and friends for one night,” Rayburn said in an interview. Fittingly, on the night of the event there will be an array of “jewels” up for auction. Some of last year’s silent bid items included a Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey signed by Mr. MVP himself and a  Team USA volleyball signed by players of the Men’s and Women’s National Team.

Assistant to the Athletic Director Katie Tuller said it’s a community celebration. “Our featured band, The Local Experience, is a group that was born and raised in Long Beach. We’ll have booths that will serve wine from California wineries that are affiliated with LBSU. We are also bringing in two photo booths that will allow people to take fun pictures they can then upload to their social mediums,” Tuller said.

More than 20 local restaurants will participate in the festivities. Vendors will serve samples of their signature menu items and provide refreshments and hors d’oeuvres to 1,000 attendees. Their dishes represent the diversity in Long Beach cuisine. “We’ve ensured that the restaurants are all serving different types of foods that are unique to their restaurants. This is to make sure there is something for everyone and that no one walks away hungry,” Tuller said.

For Lazara Diaz, owner of It’s a Grind coffeehouse on Pine Ave., this marks her fifth year attending the event as a vendor. Diaz, who is a self-proclaimed lover of Long Beach said that Jewels is a special night not only for the athletic department but for business owners as well. “Since I am a CSULB alumni, I like to give back to my school. It’s a win-win. It helps local businesses and the athletics department,” Diaz said.

Jewels of the Night is a unique event in that it presents members of the community an opportunity to support each other. The LBSU Athletics Department asks for the community to be part of “Championships Through Scholarships” initiative. Call (562) 985-7976 to make reservations and for any questions.

ivanna@longbeachcomber.com