Georgia Has Talent is an annual talent show fundraiser in Canton, Ga. that supports Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s mission. Prior to COVID-19, the event attracted audiences of up to 1,000. But like so many over the past year, event organizer Jay Huller, a Spanish teacher at Cherokee High School, had to quickly learn the basics of virtual fundraising to keep the event afloat. He knew continuing Georgia Has Talent in the virtual space was a must-do.
For Jay, finding someone who works in video daily and knows how to host live events was key to his success. “Learn what you can the first year and lend your new skills as needed, but for the most part, let the ‘production’ end be done by a pro,” he recommends to those new to the virtual event world. “It will save you time and lots of headaches.”
Jay, who fundraises in honor of his mother Kit who passed away from ovarian cancer, also underscores the importance of sharing the mission with the community. “It’s easy to get lost in the details, but people are giving if they truly understand that you come from a place of love and wanting to help.”
Thanks to dozens of participating performers, student volunteers, and talented in-kind sponsors, the event marked its 10-year anniversary virtually this past March, raising $11,000 in unrestricted funds for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber.
“[Dana-Farber] and the Jimmy Fund hold a special place in my heart. I asked around to see who in my ‘circle’ had a positive experience either as a patient or through fundraising, and Dana-Farber came up numerous times,” Jay says. “I was fortunate to be able to tour the Institute a few years ago and was overwhelmed at the sense of family and the nurturing environment at Dana-Farber, so from that point on, we’ve been working to see what we can give to the researchers.”
To learn more about Georgia Has Talent, visit their website. If you are interested in hosting your own virtual or in-person event for the Jimmy Fund, contact our community events team at JimmyFundEvents@dfci.harvard.edu.