#SBJ4040: A party with purpose

Emily Letterman, Features Editor

It was a party with a cause last night as Springfield Business Journal celebrated the 2015 class of 40 Under 40.

With nearly 450 in attendance, the Ramada Plaza Hotel & Oasis Convention Center played host to the 17th annual awards ceremony, which honored individuals under the age of 40 for their personal accomplishments in civic and professional arenas. And true to form, the office phone rang nonstop yesterday as people clamored for last-minute tickets to the sold-out event.

As music from the Rat Pack played softly over the speakers, honorees, friends, family and businesspeople took to the gambling tables of the Las Vegas-themed event to benefit this year’s charity partner, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.

Partygoers played blackjack, craps and poker, along with carnival-style challenges, for the cause. Each honoree also did a little office fundraising before the event even started, thanks to a handmade donation box from a BBBS child. In total, honorees raised more than $3,000 for the nonprofit before the event, and the crowd well more than doubled that number, bringing in $8,316 for the cause last night.

In competition between the honorees to win a catered lunch for the office, Carrie Brown, of Elliott, Robinson & Co. LLP, alone raised $1,020 for BBBS.

“We were amazed,” said Marissa Weaver, BBBS executive vice president. “Money kept coming in online in her name and we thought, ‘We need to get to know her. She is amazing.’”

Weaver couldn’t thank the crowd enough for their support of the organization, which aims to make meaningful matches between adult volunteers, aka “bigs, and children, the “littles.” to help develop positive relationships.

From the SBJ staff, thank you to everyone who came out to last night’s event and donated to the cause. Special thanks go to emcees Kevin Howard and Liz Delany of 105.9 FM KGBX for another year of laughs.

It was great to see you last night, Springfield.

WesClasspic

Congrats to the 2015 class of 40 Under 40.

Reporter’s Notebook
40 Under 40 is hands down my favorite SBJ event. The energy in the room is unstoppable.

What do you expect when you gather 40 up-and-comers, their friends, family and some of the biggest names in the business community? Good things are going to happen.

My third 40 Under 40 event during my tenure with SBJ, I was there to work, but it’s funny how work feels like fun when you’re surrounded by so many great people.

My trusty iPhone was there to capture party time in Spring-Vegas.

Thanks to Circulation Director and Events Coordinator Diana Weber and graphic designer Anne Mauldin the stage of the Oasis Convention Center looked fab.

We saved office cardboard boxes for months to make all those dice. Thanks Pinterest.

We saved office cardboard boxes for months to make all those dice. Thanks Pinterest.

Shout out to the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield for letting us borrow multiple tubs of poker chips. They really helped set the mood.

Shout out to the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield for letting us borrow multiple tubs of poker chips. They really helped set the mood.

Springfield Hot Glass was once again on point when crafting these lovely awards.

Springfield Hot Glass was once again on point when crafting these lovely awards.

While the dealer volunteered to teach me, I didn’t place a bet at the craps table. My gaming skills aren’t up to that level yet.

While the dealer volunteered to teach me, I didn’t place a bet at the craps table. My gaming skills aren’t up to that level yet.

: Blackjack I can handle. Note: I lost $600 (of my fake money) on the first two hands, so…

Blackjack I can handle. Note: I lost $600 (of my fake money) on the first two hands, so…

I stayed on 18. Dealer hit 19. Dammit.

I stayed on 18. Dealer hit 19. Dammit.

Web Editor Geoff Pickle was my blackjack partner in crime. He managed to win $4,000 during the night, bet it all and lost. We will stick to writing.

Web Editor Geoff Pickle was my blackjack partner in crime. He managed to win $4,000 during the night, bet it all and lost. We will stick to writing.

I forgot to take one of the most requested photos of the night until I’d eaten half the subject matter. The hors d’oeuvres spread included the crowd favorite, chicken on a stick, and my favorite, mini spring rolls.

I forgot to take one of the most requested photos of the night until I’d eaten half the subject matter. The hors d’oeuvres spread included the crowd favorite, chicken on a stick, and my favorite, mini spring rolls.

Why doesn’t anybody ever want to sit in the front row? Aren’t those the best seats in the house? Reporter Brian Brown, photographer Wes Hamilton and I manned the row for much of the night.

Why doesn’t anybody ever want to sit in the front row? Aren’t those the best seats in the house? Reporter Brian Brown, photographer Wes Hamilton and I manned the row for much of the night.

One of my favorite things about being a writer is learning about people in our community. I wrote Garra DeLong Crews’ profile and learned about how she helped pick up the pieces as a Springfield Public Schools counselor in the wake of the Hailey Owens murder. After the event, she hugged me and thanked me for my words. It was all you, Garra. Thank you for helping shape our young minds.

Garra accepts her award from SBJ President and Chairwoman Dianne Elizabeth Osis.

Garra accepts her award from SBJ President and Chairwoman Dianne Elizabeth Osis.

Before coming to SBJ, I was a reporter for six years at the Christian County Headliner News in Ozark. There, I met Barb Stillings. Working at the University of Missouri Extension office, she helped me with articles about rural life. As I moved up the ladder to the crime beat, she was elected Christian County circuit clerk and continued to aid my reporting. Having known her for eight years, I was thrilled to read her name on this year’s list of honorees, as picked by our judges.

She calls this an “us-ie,” aka a selfie with two people. Standing on the stage, this may be the first time she was ever taller than me in a photo.

She calls this an “us-ie,” aka a selfie with two people. Standing on the stage, this may be the first time she was ever taller than me in a photo.

Shout out to Anne Mauldin and Heather Mosley for taking some fab pics at the SBJ photo booth. Props always are a big hit, and this year’s Vegas theme was no exception.

Anne captured hundreds of smiling faces last night.

Anne captured hundreds of smiling faces last night.

Like this gem of the editorial staff.

Like this gem of the editorial staff.

And this one of Brian and I as a Vegas bride and groom. I think the veil really pulls it all together.

And this one of Brian and I as a Vegas bride and groom. I think the veil really pulls it all together.

I couldn’t leave out this shot of SBJ founder Dianne and her publisher daughter Jennifer Jackson.

I couldn’t leave out this shot I snapped of SBJ founder Dianne and her publisher daughter Jennifer Jackson while in the photo booth.

For more fun photos from the night, check out our Facebook gallery and feel free to tag yourself, your friends and family.

Official photos from the evening can be found on our website.

Thanks again to all of our honorees and everyone who attended. I hope you enjoyed the evening as much as I did.

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