Celebrity Waiter Night’s curtain call

Since 1986, the Celebrity Waiter Night has raised more than $3.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network. One hundred percent of CMN dollars stay local, impacting children right here in the community treated at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

Now in its final year in its current format, participants of this incredible fundraiser aim to make this year’s event one for the record books.

Celebrity Waiter Night has grown significantly over the years — changing venues from the Brown Derby Steakhouse to Napolatano’s and eventually to the Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“Employees put their hearts into this to raise money for the children’s hospital,” said Brad Pollitt, A.I.A., UF Health Shands facilities development vice president and 27-year event participant. “It was pretty special, and it raised a lot of money over the years.”

Pollitt said attendees love the zaniness and energy displayed by employees from different departments across UF Health, who wait tables and perform on stage. The event’s theme has ranged from Disney to MTV.

Said Pollitt: “We wanted this to be the fundraiser that everyone wanted to attend.”

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For employees like Pollitt and Gloria Dawson, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital nursing administrative assistant, the highlight of the event is hearing CMN families tell their stories.

Dawson, a 16-year participant, said ultimately, the event is all about them.

“It really keeps you grounded when you see what these families are going through,” she said. “I’ve never seen ambassador kids who aren’t really resilient and happy even though they’ve gone through extraordinary hardship.”

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Organizers will soon announce an exciting new event that will lead our Children’s Miracle Network fundraising for the next 30 years!

For more information about this year’s event on May 9, contact Jessica Clayton, community events development coordinator at 352-265-7288 or clayb@shands.ufl.edu. Visit giving.UFHealth.org/celebrity-waiter-night for a look back at previous years’ events.