We asked Ruben E. Socarras, Partner at Boca Raton law firm, Marshall Socarras Grant, PL, about what it is like serving as the President of the Jorge Nation Foundation (JNF):
- What is the Jorge Nation Foundation (JNF)?
Jorge Nation Foundation (JNF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that raises funds to send children with serious health or terminal conditions, and their families, on all-expense paid Dream Trips to destinations of their choice. Through our partnership with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, one the region’s leading hospitals, we have sent numerous deserving children on Dream Trips throughout the continent over the past five years. We also take hundreds of children and their families on our annual group trips during the holidays to local theme parks such as Zoo Miami, the Miami Seaquarium, and Jungle Island. What makes JNF unique is that the foundation is run solely by a volunteer Board of Directors and 100 percent of the proceeds raised go to support its cause.
- How did you get involved in with this charity?
In May 2011, Jorge Brouwer, one of my closest friends, suddenly passed away at the young age of 32 from a pulmonary embolism following surgery. Jorge was a unique and passionate individual, life of the party, and a successful entrepreneur who built a national student travel company after graduating from the University of Florida (UF) where we first met. After losing Jorge, we formed JNF (naming it closely to the Gator Nation, the name commonly used to describe alumni/fans of UF) to extend his legacy and raise funds to enhance the lives of less fortunate children and their families through travel.
- Why have JNF’s White Parties become so legendary?
JNF’s Annual White Party fundraiser is not your standard charity event. We truly go above and beyond to make it the best and most memorable charity event of the year. The White Party is held on the anniversary of Jorge’s passing, when many friends, family and supporters dress in all white in remembrance of the celebration held in his honor on the beach after his tragic passing when guests wore all white. The White Party has become so popular it often sells out prior to the event, and hosts over 500 loyal supporters. The White Party events feature live heartfelt speeches from recent Dream Trip recipients and their families, a presentation from the Board on the purpose and goals of the foundation, exhilarating live performances and music, and an impressive live and silent auction. Most importantly, attendees leave the events in amazement each year after meeting many of JNF’s children and families in attendance, and learning more about their hardships, the cause, and the incredible impact travel has had on their lives. This year’s video presentation from the event can be seen by clicking here.
- What are some examples of the trips that JNF has provided over the years?
We have completed trips to Northern and Southern California, Colorado, New York City, Las Vegas, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. The children and their families, who cannot travel due to the financial restraints caused by extensive medical bills and challenges of the illnesses, are treated to a VIP travel experience with extraordinary and custom itineraries. Recently, a young high school athlete diagnosed with cancer was able to travel to San Francisco, explore Alcatraz and the city, and sit court side at a Golden State Warriors NBA basketball game, where he met and shared time with the superstar roster of players from the team. Children have had the chance to see snow or fly on an airplane for the first time, meet their favorite Disney character, run out onto the field with the players of their favorite football team, or take a helicopter ride around an amazing city.
- How does someone get more involved with JNF?
We host our White Party fundraiser every year and are always searching for corporate sponsors or donors that can contribute to our silent auction. Each year, some of the largest organizations and companies around the country have participated in our event, like Bacardi, AutoNation, Salah Foundation, Miami Dolphins, Perry Ellis, GEO Group, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, and Vitas Healthcare. We also offer donors the unique opportunity to sponsor and award a Dream Trip to a family together with the Board– an incredibly unique, personal, and rewarding experience. Through the support of our generous sponsors and donors, we hope to continue to reach our fundraising goals and have a direct and significant impact on the children and families of our local community. Please visit jorgenation.org. or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.