BOCA RATON, FL—So, you think you can dance? Not like this hotelier. John C. Tolbert is doing it all for a good cause. The president and managing director of the Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, was invited to participate in Boca’s Ballroom Battle, an annual charity dance competition to benefit the George Snow Scholarship Fund.
“I committed to this a year out from the event and they take local community leaders—four men and four women—your goal is to prepare, but also raise money for the charity; the foundation is amazing,” said Tolbert. “Fundraising is what it’s about.”
Participants are challenged to learn a dance routine to be performed in front of a crowd—800 people or more—here at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Tolbert, who would be the first to say he’s not a natural dancer, took ballroom dancing lessons at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Boca Raton over the course of four months. During that time, he also hosted several experiential events designed to raise money for the scholarship fund.
“I used to run marathons, and over the last number of years, I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be, and I used this opportunity to take dance lessons. I was truly uncomfortable with the technical dancing, and ballroom dancing is real work,” said Tolbert. “I always thought, ‘I could go to a U2 or Coldplay concert and dance but a 45-minute dance lesson is different and far more difficult.’ You’ve got to be focused.”
The money raised goes to support the George Snow Scholarship Fund, which was founded in 1982 to provide educational grants to the local youth of Palm Beach County. These scholarships are four-year commitments and are designed to bridge the gap between other financial aid and what the scholar and their families can afford, according to the organization. More than $9 million has been awarded to aid 1,711 students, and this year alone, the fund awarded over $1 million in scholarships and scholars-support services to 87 students.
“For me, what I liked was the opportunity to support something and help develop children and students in our community who can’t afford to go to college afford or may be in unique situations,” he said. “We bridge those gaps for those in economic need and help them reach their goals, and maybe they’ll come back and work at the resort or serve their community.”
This year’s group of ballroom dancers raised a record-breaking $508,000, while Tolbert generated $193,000 of that total. It is acts of service like this event that resonate strongly with Tolbert. It’s also part of the resort’s DNA as he—alongside team members and managers—actively takes part in volunteerism and efforts to support the local community.
“Building the relationships with fellow community leaders and getting support from family, friends, team members and club members for one of the most significant events in the area. The support was meaningful,” he said. “It was rewarding personally and professionally, and I can’t wait to see how they’ll grow as part of our success.”