Tribute to Excellence Gala History
Our annual gala started as the “Mission Possible Gala” in 1999 as a vehicle to promote awareness about the programs and services of the Arthritis Association of Louisiana and to generate revenue to support those entities.
In 2000, the board of directors decided to use the Gala as an opportunity to recognize an individual or family for a lifetime of philanthropy to the non profits in the Baton Rouge community. The award was named the “Tribute to Excellence Award”. Our first honorees were the Gerry Lane Family for their many years of support to numerous philanthropies in Baton Rouge like the Boy Scouts, Literacy, Girl Scouts, Baton Rouge Cancer Services, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and others.
In 2001, Skip and Sandy Bertman were honored for supporting local charities like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, the Arthritis Foundation and the Capital Area United Way.
For the 2002 Tribute to Excellence Gala, the Mockler Family was chosen to receive the award for their lengthy service and support to Baton Rouge community through organizations such as Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, the Red Cross, Marine Corps Service League’s Toys for Tots campaign as well as the “Tipsy Taxi” holiday season program to prevent drinking and driving and much more.
Gary Sligar and the employees of Baton Rouge Coca-Cola were chosen as the recipients of the 2003 Tribute to Excellence Award for their outstanding contributions to Baton Rouge non profit organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Arthritis Foundation, Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, Alzheimer’s Services of Greater Baton Rouge, Capital Area United Way, the Baton Rouge Food Bank and much more.
In 2004, Richard and Susan Lipsey were honored for their outstanding long term support of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Louisiana State University, the University High School, the Shaw Center, Boy Scouts, Ducks Unlimited and much more.
Jay Campbell, Jr., president and CEO of Association Grocers was the honoree in 2005 for his lengthy dedication and commitment to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, the Capital Area United Way, Louisiana State University, Junior Achievement, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts as well as Boys and Girls Club of Baton Rouge.
Following the horrific hurricanes of 2005, the Arthritis Association made the decision to recognize 10 individuals who made great personal sacrifice to help their fellow citizens following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and/or Hurricane Rita. Nominations came in from across Louisiana and 10 finalists were chosen to be honored at the Gala for their service to Louisiana. Each of them received recognition and the stories of their heroism and acts of kindness were revealed to the attendees.
On that evening, Patrick J. Pearson from New Orleans, one of the 10 finalists, was chosen to receive the 2006 Tribute to Excellence Award for his outstanding acts of bravery, kindness and community service to others following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2007, Price and Shirley LeBlanc were chosen to receive the Tribute to Excellence Award for nearly 50 years of service to the non profit organizations in Baton Rouge and the surrounding communities. The entire LeBlanc family has shown tremendous dedication to numerous civic, educational and religious organizations that serve our community.
Because of his commitment to the Americans with Disabilities Act Task Force, Mayor Kip Holden was selected to receive the 2008 Tribute to Excellence Award. Mayor Holden has been an ardent supporter to non profit organizations in the Baton Rouge community for over 30 years.
In 2009, Robert “Bobby” Yarborough was chosen to receive the award because of his many years of service to various civic and community organizations like the Downtown Kiwanis club, Boys and Girls Club, Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge and the YMCA.
In 2010, Roland M. Toups was chosen to receive the Tribute to Excellence Award for his many years of dedicated community service to non profits in the Baton Rouge area and to Louisiana State University.
Paul Gates was the 2011 Tribute to Excellence honoree for being committed to helping non profit organizations like Boys and Girls Club, Kiwanis, American Cancer Society and many others in the Baton Rouge area for over 35 years.
In 2012, the Arthritis Association selected Pat Shingleton to receive the Tribute to Excellence Award for over 35 years of service to local area non-profit organizations like St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy, Coats for Kids, the Arthritis Association and many others.
Baton Rouge resident and national cookbook author, Holly Clegg was chosen to receive the 2013 Tribute to Excellence Award for her philanthropic work in the area of Nutrition for Cancer, Diabetic, and Arthritis patients.
The Tribute To Excellence Gala is a major fundraising event for the Arthritis Association of Louisiana and generates significant income to support programs like Camp J.A.M.-A summer retreat program for children with juvenile arthritis and their families; land and water based exercise programs for arthritis patients, free educational seminars like “Arthritis 101”, “Osteoporosis Prevention—Why Building Strong Bones is the Key”, Rheumatoid Arthritis—what you don’t know can hurt you” and “Gout 101”. The Arthritis Association distributes free medical information on over 100 topics related to arthritis and related diseases to over 19,000 patients and their caregivers yearly as well as providing a free of charge medical equipment loaner library for patients in need.