The 2023 IOP LENS Banquet took place at the elegant Sweetgrass Inn at Wild Dunes Resort on Monday, May 15, from 4 to 9 PM. The evening commenced with a special appreciation event for sponsors, followed by a delightful cocktail reception and hors d'oeuvres on the terrace and foyer. Attendees gathered and purchased raffle tickets; all while being serenaded with the live music stylings of Dave Landeo.
At 6 PM, the doors to the banquet room opened, and the approximately 360 guests in attendance rose as the color guard led the recitation of the pledge. Jim Thompson then delivered a heartfelt blessing, signaling everyone to take their seats and begin their culinary journey.
Ted Kinghorn warmly welcomed the guests, delivering his opening remarks and highlighting the remarkable work of the Law Enforcement Neighborhood Support Program (LENS) on Isle of Palms. He touched upon the program’s Education Scholarship awards, Hardship awards, and the numerous family-friendly community programs sponsored by LENS.
With the assistance of Mayor Phillip Pounds, an education scholarship award was bestowed upon Lauren Kelsey Swain, adding an extra touch of significance to the event. Chief of Police Kevin Cornett, who took the podium to deliver an inspiring keynote address, shared personal anecdotes from his own upbringing and how he came to embrace a career in law enforcement. He spoke with pride about his dedicated unit and the unsung heroes who serve the Isle of Palms community day in and day out.
As the guests savored their dinner and dessert, Kinghorn returned to the stage to present a series of prestigious awards. He bestowed three J.C. Long awards to honor exceptional achievements and outstanding service in the island's law enforcement. Sergeant Matt Storen received the 2022 Supervisor of the Year award, Officer Sydney Kowsky was recognized as the 2022 Rookie of the Year, and Code Enforcement Officer Jace Kowsky earned the title of the 2022 Professional Staff Member of the Year. Unfortunately, Detective Joe Tumminelli was unable to attend to accept his award as the 2022 Officer of the Year.
Continuing the awards ceremony, Kinghorn presented three LENS awards to express gratitude to the dedicated volunteers and generous donors who have played pivotal roles in the program's success. Kathy Shook was honored as the 2023 Volunteer of the Year, Beth and Brian Berrigan received the esteemed 2023 LENS Founders Recognition award, and the Reddy Charitable Foundation was presented with the 2023 George Leadership Award.
Following the awards, Auctioneer Tom Crawford and his assistant, Dorothy Kronemer, took the stage to introduce a motivational video that set the tone for the upcoming "Raise the Paddle" segment. Crawford passionately encouraged the audience to contribute selflessly and generously to support the LENS program. Finally, the highly anticipated live auction began, featuring fifteen incredible packages that enticed attendees to bid on items like golf carts, e-bikes, yacht cruises, Italian villa getaways, Colorado ski resort experiences, luxury golf packages, and private chef experiences.
When asked about his experience volunteering on the IOP LENS Banquet committee, Mike Powers, Banquet Co-Chair, beamed, “The entire experience was exciting and rewarding. We were overwhelmed to see the community support, both before and during the event. Our local businesses never hesitated to contribute. Their response to our cause was impressive and heartwarming, and it was a refreshing example of a community coming together to celebrate a deserving cause and a common goal.”
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of individual volunteers in the community and the unwavering support from over 120 local businesses, the LENS program triumphantly raised over $100,000 in funds to advance its noble cause.
"The funds will play a crucial role in supporting our dedicated police department and benefiting our neighbors. These contributions will be allocated towards assisting spouses and dependents of the police department, providing hardship awards, initiating morale-boosting initiatives, fostering community programs, and strengthening our endowment," explained Kinghorn.
Looking ahead, Kinghorn emphasized that the top priority is to launch the "LENS Lieutenants" program. This program aims to make donating affordable for local families, enabling them to actively participate in community events and programs. Families who are interested in joining can easily sign up by visiting the LENS website.
Kinghorn reveled in the success of the evening, remarking that, "The LENS Banquet exceeded all expectations, and feedback from attendees has been nothing but positive.” The event fostered a spirit of camaraderie and generosity while generating substantial support for the LENS program's invaluable initiatives.
After the event concluded, Jim Thompson said, “The event was well planned, well executed, and well…just plain awesome!”
Mark your calendars and stay tuned for upcoming information regarding:
Parent Back to School Night Wine Tasting at the IOP Exchange Club, August 31st 5:30-7:30. Available to first 50 LENS Lieutenants.
Crabbing with Tia, September 16th from 10:00- 12:30 at the Isle of Palms Exchange Club. Open to first 30 registrants.
Golf Cart Safety Program, Fall, details and dates TBD.