Ovation: Phil Laboon, The Most Generous Non-Groom Ever.
My household is comprised of Julia Roberts fans. We have our own copy of every movie in which she has ever starred since her first significant role in 1988’s Mystic Pizza. Every time someone stumbles upon one of her movies on television, it seems that we have to watch it. Of course, watching with commercials when we have our own copy really grinds my gears. Her most popular movies appear to be Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride, both co-starring Richard Gere. Anyone who’s ever seen Runaway Bride, or knows of pending nuptials that were cancelled after preparations had already been made, understands a little bit of the awkwardness that can ensue when a wedding is called off.
Phil Laboon, 32, was supposed to get married last Sunday. He didn’t.
“Things just didn’t work out for one reason or another and I ended up calling off the wedding pretty last-minute.” – Phil Laboon.
The CEO of an Internet marketing company had spent between $15,000 – $20,000 for a reception after the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ceremony but once it was cancelled he turned the celebration into a fundraiser … LemonAID, a charity event that put all his prepaid wedding expenses to good use.
“I decided instead of just letting it go to waste at the last minute … we just tried to come up with an idea real quick.” – Phil Laboon.
Instead of a wedding reception, Laboon hosted a fundraiser for Surgicorps International, a nonprofit that provides surgeries and medical care for needy children in developing countries repairing cleft lip and palate deformities, burn scar restructuring and other surgeries. Everything that Laboon had purchased for the wedding reception … food, alcohol, a DJ and even ice sculptures … was repurposed for the fundraiser in the Grand Hall of The Priory Hotel.
It’s not clear exactly how much money was raised through ticket sales and a silent auction but the event was sold out. Laboon believes he reached his fundraising goal of $50,000 … the average cost of a Surgicorps medical mission.
“I give him all the credit in the world for taking a less-than-ideal situation and making it into a potential circumstance where he can really give back.” – Dr. Jack Demos, Founder, Surgicorps International
Throughout the fundraiser and the quick work leading up to it, Laboon was careful to emphasize the focus of the event on helping the people in need and not on his own story and how the fundraiser came to be.
“Bad things happen, but nothing I experience will ever be equal to the obstacles these kids face each day of their lives. I’m just happy I can help.” – Phil Laboon
In Runaway Bride, Julia Roberts’ character, Maggie Carpenter, eventually ended up marrying the man of her dreams. Somebody certainly let a good one get away when Phil Laboon became the most generous non-groom ever. When life gave him lemons he made LemonAID.
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