A Look Back on UNL’s United to Ignite Awards with Chideo Winner, Giovanna Palanica!

Chideo.com is a great site that is helping connect celebrities and fans around important causes. By making a donation to a nonprofit, you can be entered to win a wide array of cool experiences including celebrity meet and greets. In July, we hosted a contest in partnership with Chideo for one lucky winner and a guest to win a trip to the Usher’s New Look United to Ignite Awards luncheon in Atlanta and meet Usher! The United to Ignite Awards celebrated our 16th year anniversary and honored Ignitors of Youth Empowerment, including longtime UNL supporter, Ludacris, for his work with the Ludacris foundation, and even Georgia Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

Giovanna Palanica was the winner of the Chideo Experience to meet Usher and attend the event. Read her blog Below and watch this recap video HERE to see her experience!

“You could say I am an Usher super fan. I’ve followed him for the last 20 years (we’re the same age) and I feel in some ways like I’ve grown up with him. So you can imagine I jumped at the chance to meet him through an online raffle with Chideo, The Charity Network.

The raffle benefited Usher’s New Look, and I justified my entry knowing that if I could put money toward buying tickets for myself for a concert, I could easily take that money to donate to a foundation like his.

I never thought I would win.

Of course I was beyond thrilled when I got the call from Chideo that I had won and started planning my trip to Atlanta to attend the Usher’s New Look luncheon. What would I wear? Would I have time to talk to Usher?

My 18-year-old daughter and I headed to Atlanta on Wednesday, July 22, and I could hardly contain my excitement about getting to meet Usher (and Ludacris!) in person. We had the opportunity for a brief photo with them before the event started and after were seated at our table for the program and luncheon.

What came as a complete surprise was the overwhelming emotion I experienced as the program unfolded — and it wasn’t just from the meet and greet with Usher. Learning about the incredible work Usher and the New Look team are doing to mentor and inspire underserved youth had an impact on me that I never expected. I walked away with an even greater appreciation for Usher as a person who really is changing the world for good.

As a parent to two teenagers, I know firsthand of the struggle to help guide our kids. The kids involved in UNL join the foundation for mentors, support and guidance. So many of them have overcome enormous odds to become successful leaders and mentors to others. Because of the foundation, they are able to achieve so many things that they may be told they can’t.

I hope to help bridge Usher’s fans with the work he is doing. If fans could look beyond their star struck eyes and really see what he is trying to do through Usher’s New Look, so many of us as fans could come together and help take the foundation to another level. He’s truly changing lives.

What really hit home for me having a daughter who just started college is the realization that the whole world doesn’t have the same advantages. But it doesn’t take a lot to help. By donating your time and even a small amount of money you can make a positive impact. It just takes one person to be a source of change and to make a lifelong impact.”

It’s never too late to donate through Chideo! Click here to make a donation to our programs.