Inspired by an Angel, a Group of Florida Friends Say ‘Yes’ to Access to Education

A group of super-human and big-hearted friends from Florida in the USA has helped to raise an incredible $140,000 at a single event to support our Open Learning Academy, which powers digital learning and education technology for rural schools in Mpumalanga. Have a look at our short Open Learning Academy video here:

Who are these amazing friends?

Led by Michael and Terri Klauber, and hosted at Michael’s restaurant, Michaels-on-East in Sarasota, Safari Sarasota is an event that celebrates South Africa’s food and wine, but goes further to raise awareness for the need to improve access to quality education for the people and communities of South Africa’s rural areas.

The event, which was held on the 6th November 2015, includes an interactive cooking experience led by Londolozi Private Game Reserve’s Executive Chef Anna Ridgewell. Anna, who is a long-time GWF ambassador, cooks South African-inspired cuisine (with lots of great wine and Amarula) and guests join in using cooking stations set up at their tables.

The event also includes live and silent auctions, which benefit the All Heart Fund set up in 2013 to support GWF’s digital learning campuses.

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Anna Ridgewell’s Safari Sarasota Interactive Dinner Menu included: (1) Seared sriracha scallops with pancetta and coconut milk; (2) Pan-seared Kingklip with a soy glaze on noodles; (3) White tail deer loin with Amarula sauce; and (4) an African-inspired crepe suzette.

The All Heart Fund and the Remarkable Story of Leanna Knopik

Co-chair of Safari Sarasota is Beth Knopik who first travelled to Londolozi in the nearby Sabi Sand Game Reserve with her husband and two children in 2011. As well as the beautiful wildlife, Leanna was able to meet and interact with students at GWF’s Londolozi Digital Learning Centre.

Not long after the visit, Beth’s 16-year-old daughter, Leanna, passed away suddenly after contracting a rare heart infection, and it is in memory of Leanna that the All Heart Fund was set up to support improved learning experiences for the often-disadvantaged children living in Mpumalanga’s rural areas.

The majority of the silent auction items at the event were wildlife photos submitted by Londolozi’s game rangers, many of whom have guided groups of visitors led by Michael and Terri in the past. However, a precious few photos were Leanna Knopik originals, captured on her 2011 Londolozi visit.

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These photos, many of them submitted by Londolozi’s game rangers, were placed on a silent auction, with proceeds going to the All Heart Fund, which supports the Good Work Foundation.

As Michael Klauber headed up the stage to lead the guests in the live action he said: “I am so very proud to be able to share in the celebration of our special angel Leanna’s legacy tonight. We know that she is looking down on us with pride as we bring her dreams alive. Her hope of working in the villages surrounding Londolozi Game Reserve and creating new education experiences is coming true in so many ways. Terri and I are proud to stand alongside the Knopik Family as we continue our work for the All Heart Fund.”

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Left: Steve and Beth Knopik, founders of the All Heart Fund. Right: Terri and Michael Klauber, owners of the restaurant ‘Michaels on East’ and co-chairs of the Safari Sarasota event.

Kate Groch talks about the real impact for this event

Kate Groch, CEO of GWF, attended Safari Sarasota this year, in part to thank regular supporters of this event, and share with them what has been achieved since 2013.

“Leanna Knopik has inspired an entire community and been able to share with them the important work that we are doing for young, rural South Africans,” said Kate.

“There is no price that you can put on the value of an emissary who truly believes in what you do. And because of that we have been able to build and expand our digital learning programmes that now reach more than 3000 children. On behalf of the GWF team, thank you to the extended All Heart community in Florida.”

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