Nearly 16 years ago, Keri Brooke Heiken lost her life in a horrific car accident as she and four friends headed back to the University of Florida after spending a weekend in South Florida.
Since her death in 1998, her family has worked to keep Keri’s memory alive by giving $2,500 scholarships to high school seniors who have helped the community and want to make a difference in the world.
This year, the Keri Brooke Heiken Foundation, which in the past has held dinner and raffle fundraisers, is reaching out for donations in a new way.
It has joined The Miami Foundation’s Give Miami Day — a 24-hour period in which donations can be made online to more than 500 charities. The blitz begins 12:01 a.m. Thursday and runs for 24 hours.
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“It’s an opportunity to reach a lot more people,” said Keri’s mother, Lori Heiken. “We have been working hard to spread the word.”
Give Miami Day, now in its third year, has gained popularity with each campaign, with more and more charities coming on board. This year, Give Miami will include 115 new charities — among them Goodwill Industries, the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, the South Florida SPCA Horse Rescue and Honor Flight South Florida.
Miami Foundation CEO Javier Alberto Soto said the momentum has been incredible. This year the foundation, a philanthropy incubator that helps charities with their fundraising, has even planned a block party from 6 to 9 p.m. in the West Plaza of the Miami Marlins’ stadium in Little Havana to give people a chance to mingle.
“I think we have created an event people look forward to each year to make our community better,” Soto said. “It’s about civic pride.”
And the pride has been contagious.
Returning charities including Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Inc., Miami Herald Charities — which benefits the Wish Book project — and Shake-A-Leg Miami have been blasting the message through Facebook and through other social media platforms.
The Arsht Center, which is raising money for its Arts Education programs, has planned Dance Party on the Plaza to spotlight Give Miami Day and has encouraged the staff effort to raise money. Others including Heiken will hold an open house to thank supporters.
The way it works is simple: People can visit givemiamiday.org, look at the profiles of each charity and make a donation. Donations between $25 and $10,000 will qualify for a bonus for the recipient, distributed based on how much is raised and how much is collected in the bonus pool. The Miami Foundation, Knight Foundation and other sponsors have contributed as an “incentive” for giving, Soto said.
There are also about 20 prizes throughout the giving period to boost donations. The gifts include the $1,500 Early Bird Gets the Worm prize for the organization that receives the most individual gifts from midnight to 1:30 a.m., the $500 Good Morning, Sunshine prize for the organization that receives the gift made closest to the official sunrise at 6:43 a.m., and the $500 Giancarlo Stanton Home Run prize for the organization that receives the gift made closest to 1:54 p.m. celebrating the Miami Marlins all-time career home run leader.
Last year, Give Miami Day received more than 10,000 individual gifts and raised $3.2 million to support 407 local nonprofit organizations. The Greater Miami Jewish Federation topped the leader board with $207,362.
Soto said the goal is to continue to have an “impact on South Florida.”
“There are a lot of charities doing a lot of great things and we want to recognize that.”
What: The Miami Foundation’s Give Miami Day
When: Thursday through Friday
How: Visit givemiamiday.org and either click on the charity of your choice or search through the database. Donations between $25 and $10,000 qualify for a percentage of the bonus pool.
Social media: @MiamiFoundation on Twitter and Instagram and #givemiamiday.
For more information: givemiamiday.org.