The Hilton Tampa Downtown hosted more than 600 guests Saturday for Jesuit High School's 16th annual Gaudiosa fundraising gala, which set a new record this year, raising a total of $775,000 for the school's financial aid program.
Gaudiosa means joyous feast in Latin, and the event included a silent auction, raffles, dinner, live music and dancing.
But at this year's gala, themed "An Evening in Paris", the real surprise came when alumnus Ron Antinori and his wife Susan announced their $2 million gift towards Phase II of Jesuit's Campus Master Plan, scheduled to break ground in the summer of 2020.
Ron Antinori is the founder and CEO of Antinori Software, Inc. In 2010, he founded Rapido, a classical music composition competition. The Antinoris are also known for their commitment to the arts community in Atlanta, and he has served as a board member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Opera.
Antinori has a long record of donating to his alma mater. In 2016, a computer lab was named in memory of his parents, Paul and Rosa Antinori, and now Jesuit will name the centerpiece of Phase II in his honor.
Nick Suszynski, an alumnus from the Class of 1998 and Jesuit's Development Director, describes everyone's reaction on Saturday as a sense of astonishment and pride.
"It's really created a lot of excitement for a project that is still in its early stages," Suszynski said. "I heard from a lot of individuals about just how excited they are, and wanted to know when the center will be built."
The gala also featured a last-minute live auction by Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, who is also a Jesuit parent. Suszynski said that with Chronister's help, they earned an additional $24,000 towards their financial aid program.
Jesuit High School reports that as a result of patrons, sponsors and guests' generosity, this year the school is providing $2 million in financial aid to 30 percent of the student body.
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