May 9: Final Celebrity Waiter Night

Fundraiser brought in more than $3 million over three decades for CMN

By: Jimmy McLaughlin

2016 Celebrity Waiter Night event wraps successful run

As Celebrity Waiter Night reaches the final year in its current format, participants are reminiscing about three successful decades of fun-filled and entertaining fundraising.

“Employees put their hearts into this to raise money for the children’s hospital,” said Brad Pollitt, A.I.A., UF Health Shands Facilities Development vice president and 27-year event participant. “It was pretty special, and it raised a lot of money over the years.”

Since 1986, the annual event has raised more than $3.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network, or CMN, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for local children’s hospitals. One hundred percent of CMN dollars stay local, impacting children right here in the community treated at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

Celebrity Waiter Night has grown significantly over the years — changing venues from the Brown Derby Steakhouse to Napolatano’s and eventually to the Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Pollitt said attendees love the zaniness and energy displayed by employees from different departments across UF Health, who wait tables and perform on stage. The event’s theme has ranged from Disney to MTV.

It isn’t uncommon for Pollitt’s team to practice twice a week and incorporate video leading up to the event.

“We try to raise the bar every year,” Pollitt said. “We wanted this to be the fundraiser that everyone wanted to attend.”

For employees like Pollitt and Gloria Dawson, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Nursing administrative assistant, the highlight of the event is hearing CMN families tell their stories.

Dawson, a 16-year participant, said ultimately, the event is all about them.
“It really keeps you grounded when you see what these families are going through,” she said. “I’ve never seen ambassador kids who aren’t really resilient and happy even though they’ve gone through extraordinary hardship.”

Join us to celebrate 30 years of Celebrity Waiter Night

When: Monday, May 9 at 6 p.m.
Where: Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Tickets: Employee tickets are $35 and can be purchased at

Stay tuned for an announcement this spring about an exciting new event that will lead our Children’s Miracle Network fundraising for the next 30 years!