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This year's APTA Celebration of Diversity Gala may have been virtual, but there was nothing virtual about the money attendees raised for the association's Minority Scholarship Fund:  Thanks in part to the success of this year's three-night event, the fund has grown by a very real $83,000 so far in 2020.

Note: That's $83,000 to date. Which means there's still time to make your donation to help us reach our goal of $100,000.

As with all APTA events held since March, the gala was transitioned from its usual one-night, in-person celebration to an online gathering consistent with public health efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. But the event took a creative approach: Rather than being held as a single, hours-long session, the gala was broken up into three sessions of just over an hour on consecutive evenings, Oct. 15, 16, and 17.

The approach was met with active engagement: some 368 participants officially attended one or more of the evenings, and the event received more than 23,000 views on social media. Attendees learned more about APTA's efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession; viewed testimonials from Minority Scholarship recipients on how the support is helping them achieve their dreams; and even joined in an online dance party to cap off the final night of the gala. After all, it just wouldn't be a gala without dancing.

The fundraising that took place during the gala helped 2020 donations to the fund grow to $83,676, a healthy addition for a program that's given out more than $1 million in funding support since its inception in 1993.

As successful as the gala was, it's only a marker in time — the Minority Scholarship Fund continues to accept donations with the goal of reaching the $100,000 mark by the end of the year. Donating online is easy. Another great way to help out: Donate as little as $10 to have your name included on the planned "Community Wall" art installation at APTA's new headquarters. Contributions will go to APTA's Campaign for Future Generations, a fundraising initiative that includes the Minority Scholarship Fund.

"The energy behind the Minority Scholarship Fund has always been strong, but it was amazing to see the extra effort supporters made this year to make our virtual event a special time," said APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD. "In a year that's been challenging in so many ways, it's clear that our members haven't lost sight of what's truly important to the future of our profession."

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