Interview With Jewels Of The Night Co-Chairs Eric Johnson and Dr. Kalim Rayburn
April 9, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. - The 20th Annual Jewels of the Night food and wine festival is just one month away on Saturday, May 3 inside of the Walter Pyramid. Acting as a celebration of Long Beach State Athletics and its family members, the event is the largest fundraiser of the year to support student-athlete scholarships at Long Beach State. The evening offers attendees a taste of more than 30 area restaurants, unlimited drinks, 300+ auction items, a cigar lounge, photo booths, piano bars, and more.
The planning of the event is led by a 25-person committee, captained this year by event co-chairs Eric Johnson and Dr. Kalim Rayburn. Johnson and Rayburn are both heavy community supporters, athletic backers, and alumni with Long Beach State and city ties. The pair have committed to the growth and strengthening of the Jewels of the Night event.
We spoke with both of them in advance of this year's of the Jewels of the Night about their background and plans for the event.
Why are you involved in Jewels and supporting LBSU Athletics?
Johnson: First and foremost, I think it's important to give back to your community in whatever way you can. The opportunity to co-chair Jewels with one of my oldest and dearest friends makes it all the more enjoyable for me. Long Beach State and the Athletic Department have been an important part of my life so it's a great way for me to give something back to the school.
What are you most excited about at this year's event?
Johnson: I think the fun factor will be at an all-time high! We have some of the best restaurants in town providing some amazing food, we'll have great entertainment and some fantastic live and silent auction items that you won't want to miss.
Jewels of the Night is now 20 years old. What will make this year's event different and special?
Johnson: The event has been building and growing each year and is truly one of our communities "must attend" events. One of the exciting parts of this year's Jewels will be the automated silent auction system "Qtego". This will allow guests to bid and track their silent auction items through the use of their smart phones while still socializing at their seats. How cool is that!
What does Jewels of the Night mean to Long Beach State Athletics?
Johnson: I think it gives the community a way to participate and support Student-Athletes in a manner that's fun, rewarding and impactful. The money raised at this event makes a big difference in the lives of so many student athletes.
Jewels of the Night has had some awesome live auction items over the years. What item are you most excited about for this year?
Johnson: I'm not sure I can pick just one! I love traveling and I've not been Australia yet, that one for sure is on my bucket list. The Arizona getaway for Super Bowl XLIX and the Phoenix Open is another that's going to be hard to beat.
How do you see Jewels growing over the next 10 years?
Johnson: I think getting more people involved and creating excitement for this event is critical to seeing it grow. Adding some different elements, like the automated silent auction system that we're introducing this year will definitely help. [We need to] continue to get the message out that this event is so important to supporting OUR community's student athletes. I can't stress that enough, this event makes such a positive difference for so many. It's fun to be a part of something so special.